The expression of cloned genes in mammalian cells is a basic tool for understanding gene expression, protein structure, and function, and biological regulatory mechanisms. The level of protein expression from heterologous genes introduced into mammalian cells depends upon multiple factors including DNA copy number, efficiency of transportation, mRNA processing, mRNA transport, mRNA stability, and translational efficiency, and protein processing, transport, and stability. Different genes exhibit different rate limiting steps for efficient expression. Multiple strategies are available to obtain high level expression in mammalian cells. This article reviews vector design for expression of foreign genes in mammalian cells.