The bacterium Escherichia coli is the most widely used expression host for overexpression trials of membrane proteins. Usually, different strains, culture conditions and expression regimes are screened for to identify the optimal overexpression strategy. However, yields are often not satisfactory, especially for eukaryotic membrane proteins. This has initiated a revolution of membrane protein overexpression in bacteria. Recent studies have shown that it is feasible to (i) engineer or select for E. coli strains with strongly improved membrane protein overexpression characteristics, (ii) use bacteria other than E. coli for the expression of membrane proteins, (iii) engineer or select for membrane protein variants that retain functionality but express better than the wild-type protein, and (iv) express membrane proteins using E. coli-based cell-free systems.