Using the PURE (Protein synthesis Using Recombinant Elements) system, we developed an efficient and highly controllable ribosome display method for selection of functional protein. The PURE system is composed of purified factors and enzymes that are responsible for gene expression in Escherichia coli. We performed the detailed analyses and optimization of the ribosome display system and demonstrated the formation of stable mRNA/ribosome/polypeptide ternary complexes. As complex formation is fundamental to successful ribosome display, these improvements resulted in a dramatic increase in the mRNA recovery rate. As a result, a approximately 12,000-fold enrichment of single-chain antibody (scFv) cDNA was achieved in a single round of selection. Specific selection of scFv mRNA from a 1:10(10) dilution in competitor mRNA was achieved with only three rounds of affinity selection. These findings, together with the results in the accompanying paper [T. Matsuura, H. Yanagida, J. Ushioda, I. Urabe, T. Yomo, Nascent chain, RNA, and ribosome complexes generated by pure translation system (see the accompanying paper).], demonstrate that the PURE system can provide a basis for reliable and reproducible ribosome display.