Morphogenesis of the rod-shaped Escherichia coli is determined by controlled growth of an exoskeleton made of murein (peptidoglycan). Recent insights in the growth strategy of the stress-bearing murein sacculus has contributed to our understanding of how the required concerted action of murein polymerizing and hydrolyzing enzymes is achieved. The proteins involved are coordinated by the formation of multienzyme complexes. In this review, we summarize the recent results on murein structure and metabolism. On the basis of these findings, we present a model that explains maintenance of the specific rod shape of E. coli.