At the time of its formal incorporation in 1932, the AIP comprised five societies with a total membership of some 4,000 individuals:
- American Physical Society
- Optica (formerly OSA)
- Acoustical Society of America
- Society of Rheology
- American Association of Physics Teachers.
A new set of Member Societies was added during the period 1966 – 1986:
- American Crystallographic Association (1966)
- American Astronomical Society (1966)
- American Association of Physicists in Medicine (1973)
- AVS Science of Materials, Interfaces and Processing (formerly the American Vacuum Society) (1976)
- American Geophysical Union (1986 - 2013)
The economic model was such that AIP journal and other product revenues were needed to offset the costs of Member Society membership. Limited financial resources kept membership constant for many years, until the departure of the American Geophysical Union and the acceptance of the American Meteorological Society as its first new member in 27 years.
At its peak in 2012, total combined membership of its Member Societies (without overlapping) exceeded 135,000 individual members. Today, membership of the ten Member Societies totals more than 100,000.