The radiofrequency (RF) receive array coil is a complicated device with many inductors and capacitors and serves as one of the most critical magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) electronic devices. It directly determines the achievable level of signal-to-noise ratio (SNR). Simply put, however, the RF coil is nothing but an LC circuit. The receive array coil was first proposed more than 20 years ago, evolving from a simple arrangement with a few electronic channels to a complicated system of 128 channels, enabling highly sophisticated parallel imaging, at different field strengths. This article summarizes the basic concepts pertaining to RF receive coil arrays and their associated SNR and reviews the theories behind the major components of such arrays. This includes discussions of the intrinsic SNR of a receive coil, the matching circuits, low-noise preamplifiers, coupling/decoupling amongst coils, the coupling between receive and transmit coils, decoupling via preamplifiers, and baluns. An 8-channel receive array coil on a cylindrical former serves as a useful example for demonstrating various points in the review. J. Magn. Reson. Imaging 2013;38:12–25. © 2013 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.