The cystic fibrosis transmembrane conductance regulator (CFTR) is a cAMP-dependent protein kinase A-activated chloride channel that resides on the apical surface of epithelial cells. One unusual feature of this protein is that during biogenesis, ∼75% of wild type CFTR is degraded by the endoplasmic reticulum (ER)-associated degradative (ERAD) pathway. Examining the biogenesis and structural instability of the molecule has been technically challenging due to the limited amount of CFTR expressed in epithelia. Consequently, investigators have employed heterologous overexpression systems. Based on recent results that epithelial specific factors regulate both CFTR biogenesis and function, we hypothesized that CFTR biogenesis in endogenous CFTR expressing epithelial cells may be more efficient. To test this, we compared CFTR biogenesis in two epithelial cell lines endogenously expressing CFTR (Calu-3 and T84) with two heterologous expression systems (COS-7 and HeLa). Consistent with previous reports, 20 and 35% of the newly synthesized CFTR were converted to maturely glycosylated CFTR in COS-7 and HeLa cells, respectively. In contrast, CFTR maturation was virtually 100% efficient in Calu-3 and T84 cells. Furthermore, inhibition of the proteasome had no effect on CFTR biogenesis in Calu-3 cells, whereas it stabilized the immature form of CFTR in HeLa cells. Quantitative reverse transeriptase-PCR indicated that CFTR message levels are ∼4-fold lower in Calu-3 than HeLa cells, yet steady-state protein levels are comparable. Our results question the structural instability model of wild type CFTR and indicate that epithelial cells endogenously expressing CFTR efficiently process this protein to post-Golgi compartments.