In response to the emerging need to provide a society offering equal status to representatives of both biomedical and engineering interests, the Biomedical Engineering Society was incorporated in Illinois on February 1, 1968. BMES published its "Historical Perspective" in 2004, celebrating its 35-year history and growth.

The Society is a 501(c)3 nonprofit professional association, which was established to serve as the lead society and professional home for biomedical engineering and bioengineering students, academics, and professionals. The mission of the Society is to promote and enhance biomedical engineering knowledge worldwide and its utilization for human health and well-being. 

Initially, the membership of the Society included 171 founding members and 89 charter members. With the cooperation of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology, the first open meeting of the Biomedical Engineering Society was held at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Atlantic City on April 17, 1968.

BMES membership has grown to over 5,000 members, with over 115 BMES Student Chapters a growing international membership and Special Interest Groups (SIGs).