Expression of a rabbit liver carboxylesterase has been achieved in several different model systems including Escherichia coli, Pichia pastoris, Saccharomyces cerevisiae, Spodoptera frugiperda, and COS7 cells. Although, recombinant protein was observed in E. coli sonicates, little or no enzymatic activity was detected. Similarly, no activity was observed following expression in S. cerevisiae. In contrast, active protein was produced in P. pastoris, from S. frugiperda following baculoviral infection and in COS7 cells following transient transfection of plasmid DNA. For the preparation of small amounts of protein for kinetic and biochemical studies, enzyme expressed in P. pastoris has proved sufficient. However, to produce large amounts of carboxylesterase for structural studies, baculoviral-mediated expression of a secreted form of the protein in S. frugiperda was the most efficient. Using this system, we have generated and purified milligram quantities of essentially pure protein. These results demonstrate that the choice of in vitro system for the generation of large amounts of active carboxylesterase, and probably most endoplasmic reticulum processed proteins, is crucial for high level expression and subsequent purification.