Protein quality control involves sensing and treatment of defective or incomplete protein structures. Misfolded or mislocalized proteins trigger dedicated signal transduction cascades that upregulate the production of protein quality control factors. Corresponding proteases and chaperones either degrade or repair damaged proteins thereby reducing the level of aggregation-prone molecules. Since the periplasm of Gram-negative bacteria is particularly exposed to environmental changes and respective protein folding stresses connected with the presence of detergents, low or high osmolarity of the medium, elevated temperatures and the host's immune response, fine tuned protein quality control systems are essential for survival under these unfavorable conditions. This review discusses recent advances in the identification and characterization of the key cellular factors and the emerging general principles of the underlying molecular mechanisms.