Membrane Protein Structure Initiative (MPSI) exploits laboratory competencies to work collaboratively and distribute work among the different sites. This is possible as protein structure determination requires a series of steps, starting with target selection, through cloning, expression, purification, crystallization and finally structure determination. Distributed sites create a unique set of challenges for integrating and passing on information on the progress of targets. This role is played by the Protein Information Management System (PIMS), which is a laboratory information management system (LIMS), serving as a hub for MPSI, allowing collaborative structural proteomics to be carried out in a distributed fashion. It holds key information on the progress of cloning, expression, purification and crystallization of proteins. PIMS is employed to track the status of protein targets and to manage constructs, primers, experiments, protocols, sample locations and their detailed histories: thus playing a key role in MPSI data exchange. It also serves as the centre of a federation of interoperable information resources such as local laboratory information systems and international archival resources, like PDB or NCBI. During the challenging task of PIMS integration, within the MPSI, we discovered a number of prerequisites for successful PIMS integration. In this article we share our experiences and provide invaluable insights into the process of LIMS adaptation. This information should be of interest to partners who are thinking about using LIMS as a data centre for their collaborative efforts. © 2008 Informa UK Ltd.