Hemagglutinin (HA) is the receptor-binding and membrane fusion glycoprotein of influenza virus and the target for infectivity-neutralizing antibodies. The structures of three conformations of the ectodomain of the 1968 Hong Kong influenza virus HA have been determined by X-ray crystallography: the single-chain precursor, HA0; the metastable neutral-pH conformation found on virus, and the fusion pH-induced conformation. These structures provide a framework for designing and interpreting the results of experiments on the activity of HA in receptor binding, the generation of emerging and reemerging epidemics, and membrane fusion during viral entry. Structures of HA in complex with sialic acid receptor analogs, together with binding experiments, provide details of these low-affinity interactions in terms of the sialic acid substituents recognized and the HA residues involved in recognition. Neutralizing antibody-binding sites surround the receptor-binding pocket on the membrane-distal surface of HA, and the structures of the complexes between neutralizing monoclonal Fabs and HA indicate possible neutralization mechanisms. Cleavage of the biosynthetic precursor HA0 at a prominent loop in its structure primes HA for subsequent activation of membrane fusion at endosomal pH (Figure 1). Priming involves insertion of the fusion peptide into a charged pocket in the precursor; activation requires its extrusion towards the fusion target membrane, as the N terminus of a newly formed trimeric coiled coil, and repositioning of the C-terminal membrane anchor near the fusion peptide at the same end of a rod-shaped molecule. Comparison of this new HA conformation, which has been formed for membrane fusion, with the structures determined for other virus fusion glycoproteins suggests that these molecules are all in the fusion-activated conformation and that the juxtaposition of the membrane anchor and fusion peptide, a recurring feature, is involved in the fusion mechanism. Extension of these comparisons to the soluble N-ethyl-maleimide-sensitive factor attachment protein receptor (SNARE) protein complex of vesicle fusion allows a similar conclusion.