Key message: Genetic improvement of soybean protein meal is a complex process because of negative correlation with oil, yield, and temperature. This review describes the progress in mapping and genomics, identifies knowledge gaps, and highlights the need of integrated approaches. Abstract: Meal protein derived from soybean [Glycine max (L) Merr.] seed is the primary source of protein in poultry and livestock feed. Protein is a key factor that determines the nutritional and economical value of soybean. Genetic improvement of soybean seed protein content is highly desirable, and major quantitative trait loci (QTL) for soybean protein have been detected and repeatedly mapped on chromosomes (Chr.) 20 (LG-I), and 15 (LG-E). However, practical breeding progress is challenging because of seed protein content’s negative genetic correlation with seed yield, other seed components such as oil and sucrose, and interaction with environmental effects such as temperature during seed development. In this review, we discuss rate-limiting factors related to soybean protein content and nutritional quality, and potential control factors regulating seed storage protein. In addition, we describe advances in next-generation sequencing technologies for precise detection of natural variants and their integration with conventional and high-throughput genotyping technologies. A syntenic analysis of QTL on Chr. 15 and 20 was performed. Finally, we discuss comprehensive approaches for integrating protein and amino acid QTL, genome-wide association studies, whole-genome resequencing, and transcriptome data to accelerate identification of genomic hot spots for allele introgression and soybean meal protein improvement.