fMRI has established itself as the main research tool in neuroscience and brain cognitive research. The common marmoset (Callithrix jacchus) is a non-human primate model of increasing interest in biomedical research. However, commercial MRI coils for marmosets are not generally available. The present work describes the design and construction of a four-channel receive-only surface RF coil array with excellent signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) specifically optimized for fMRI experiments in awake marmosets in response to somatosensory stimulation. The array was designed as part of a helmet-based head restraint system used to prevent motion during the scans. High SNR was obtained by building the coil array using a thin and flexible substrate glued to the inner surface of the restraint helmet, so as to minimize the distance between the array elements and the somatosensory cortex. Decoupling between coil elements was achieved by partial geometrical overlapping and by connecting them to home-built low-input-impedance preamplifiers. In vivo images show excellent coverage of the brain cortical surface with high sensitivity near the somatosensory cortex. Embedding the coil elements within the restraint helmet allowed fMRI data in response to somatosensory stimulation to be collected with high sensitivity and reproducibility in conscious, awake marmosets. Published 2013. This article is a U.S. Government work and is in the public domain in the USA.