In the genome-engineering era, it is increasingly important that researchers have access to a common set of platform strains that can serve as debugged production chassis and the basis for applying new metabolic engineering strategies for modeling and characterizing flux, engineering complex traits, and optimizing overall performance. Here, we describe such a platform strain of E. coli engineered for ethanol production. Starting with a fully characterized host strain (BW25113), we site-specifically integrated the genes required for homoethanol production under the control of a strong inducible promoter into the genome and deleted the genes encoding four enzymes from competing pathways. This strain is capable of producing >30 g/L of ethanol in minimal media with <2 g/L produced of any fermentative byproduct. Using this platform strain, we tested previously identified ethanol tolerance genes and found that while tolerance was improved under certain conditions, any effect on ethanol production or tolerance was lost when grown under production conditions. Thus, our findings reinforce the need for a metabolic engineering “commons” that could provide a set of platform strains for use in more sophisticated genome-engineering strategies. Towards this end, we have made this production strain available to the scientific community. Biotechnol. Bioeng. 2013; 110: 1520–1526. © 2013 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.