An ion channel protein begins life as a nascent peptide inside a ribosome, moves to the endoplasmic reticulum where it becomes integrated into the lipid bilayer, and ultimately forms a functional unit that conducts ions in a well-regulated fashion. Here, I discuss the nascent peptide and its tasks as it wends its way through ribosomal tunnels and exit ports, through translocons, and into the bilayer. We are just beginning to explore the sequence of these events, mechanisms of ion channel structure formation, when biogenic decisions are made, and by which participants. These decisions include when to exit the endoplasmic reticulum and with whom to associate. Such issues govern the expression of ion channels at the cell surface and thus the electrical activity of a cell.