To get insights into the role played by each of the influenza A virus polypeptides in morphogenesis and virus particle assembly, the generation of virus-like particles (VLPs) has been examined in COS-1 cell cultures expressing, from recombinant plasmids, different combinations of the viral structural proteins. The presence of VLPs was examined biochemically, following centrifugation of the supernatants collected from transfected cells through sucrose cushions and immunoblotting, and by electron-microscopic analysis. It is demonstrated that the matrix (M1) protein is the only viral component which is essential for VLP formation and that the viral ribonucleoproteins are not required for virus particle formation. It is also shown that the M1 protein, when expressed alone, assembles into virus-like budding particles, which are released in the culture medium, and that the recombinant M1 protein accumulates intracellularly, forming tubular structures. All these results are discussed with regard to the roles played by the virus polypeptides during virus assembly.