© 2016 Piao et al. Background: Porcine epidemic diarrhea virus (PEDV) is a highly contagious enteric pathogen of swine. The spike glycoprotein (S) of PEDV is the major immunogenic determinant that plays a pivotal role in the induction of neutralizing antibodies against PEDV, which therefore is an ideal target for the development of subunit vaccine. In an attempt to develop a subunit vaccine for PEDV, we cloned two different fragments of S protein and expressed as glutathione S-transferase (GST)-tagged fusion proteins, namely rGST-COE and rGST-S1D, in E.coli. However, the expression of these recombinant protein antigens using a variety of expression vectors, strains, and induction conditions invariably resulted in inclusion bodies. To achieve the soluble expression of recombinant proteins, several chaperone co-expression systems were tested in this study. Results: We firstly tested various chaperone co-expression systems and found that co-expression of trigger factor (TF) with recombinant proteins at 15 °C was most useful in soluble production of rGST-COE and rGST-S1D compared to GroEL-ES and DnaK-DnaJ-GrpE/GroEL-ES systems. The soluble rGST-COE and rGST-S1D were purified using glutathione Sepharose 4B with a yield of 7.5 mg/l and 5 mg/l, respectively. Purified proteins were detected by western blot using mouse anti-GST mAb and pig anti-PEDV immune sera. In an indirect ELISA, purified proteins showed immune reactivity with pig anti-PEDV immune sera. Finally, immunization of mice with 10 μg of purified proteins elicited highly potent serum IgG and serum neutralizing antibody titers. Conclusions: In this study, soluble production of recombinant spike protein of PEDV, rGST-COE and rGST-S1D, were achieved by using TF chaperone co-expression system. Our results suggest that soluble rGST-COE and rGST-S1D produced by co-expressing chaperones may have the potential to be used as subunit vaccine antigens.