The preservation of reliability aging classes under the formation of coherent systems is a relevant topic in reliability theory. Thus, it is well known that the new better than used class is preserved under the formation of coherent systems with independent components. However, surprisingly, the increasing failure rate class is not preserved in the independent and identically distributed case, that is, the components may have the (negative) aging increasing failure rate property, but the system does not have this property. In this paper, we study conditions for the preservation of the main reliability classes under the formation of general coherent systems. These results can be applied both for systems with independent or dependent components. We consider both the case of systems with identically distributed components and the case of systems with components having different distributions. Copyright © 2013 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.