Membrane proteins are notoriously difficult to produce at the high levels required for structural and biochemical characterization. Among the various expression systems used to date, the enteric bacterium Escherichia coli remains one of the best characterized and most versatile. However, membrane protein overexpression in E. coli is often accompanied by toxicity and low yields of functional product. Here, we briefly review the involvement of signal recognition particle, trigger factor, and YidC in α-helical membrane protein biogenesis and describe a set of strains, vectors, and chaperone co-expression plasmids that can lead to significant gains in the production of recombinant membrane proteins in E. coli. Methods to quantify membrane proteins by sodium dodecyl sulfate polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis are also provided.