In mammalian cells, many secretory proteins are targeted to the endoplasmic reticulum co-translationally, by the signal recognition particle (SRP) and its receptor. In Escherichia coli, the targeting of secretory proteins to the inner membrane can be accomplished post-translationally. Unexpectedly, despite this variance, E. coli contains essential genes encoding Ffh and FtsY with a significant similarity to proteins of the eukaryotic SRP machinery. In this study, we investigated the possibility that the prokaryotic SRP-like machinery is involved in biogenesis of membrane proteins in E. coli. The data presented here demonstrate that the SRP-receptor homologue, FtsY, is indeed essential for expression of integral membrane proteins in E. coli, indicating that, in the case of this group of proteins, FtsY and the mammalian SRP receptor have similar functions.