Background The permanently impaired protein folding during recombinant protein production resembles the stress encountered at extreme temperatures, under which condition the putative holding chaperones, IbpA/IbpB, play an important role. We evaluated the impact of ibpAB deletion or overexpression on stress responses and the inclusion body metabolism during production of yeast α-glucosidase in Escherichia coli. Results Deletion of ibpAB, which is innocuous under physiological conditions, impaired culture growth during α-glucosidase production. At higher temperatures, accumulation of stress proteins including disaggregation chaperones (DnaK and ClpB) and components of the RNA degradosome, enolase and PNP, was intensified. Overexpression of ibpAB, conversely, suppressed the heat-shock response under these conditions. Inclusion bodies of α-glucosidase started to disaggregate after arrest of protein synthesis in a ClpB and DnaK dependent manner, followed by degradation or reactivation. IbpA/IbpB decelerated disaggregation and degradation at higher temperatures, but did hardly influence the disaggregation kinetics at 15°C. Overexpression of ibpAB concomitant to production at 42°C increased the yield of α-glucosidase activity during reactivation. Conclusions IbpA/IbpB attenuate the accumulation of stress proteins, and – at high temperatures – save disaggregated proteins from degradation, at the cost, however, of delayed removal of aggregates. Without ibpAB, inclusion body removal is faster, but cells encounter more intense stress and growth impairment. IbpA/IbpB thus exert a major function in cell protection during stressful situations.