We investigated the structure of the hydrophobic domain of the severe acute respiratory syndrome E protein in model lipid membranes by x-ray reflectivity and x-ray scattering. In particular, we used x-ray reflectivity to study the location of an iodine-labeled residue within the lipid bilayer. The label imposes spatial constraints on the protein topology. Experimental data taken as a function of protein/lipid ratio P/L and different swelling states support the hairpin conformation of severe acute respiratory syndrome E protein reported previously. Changes in the bilayer thickness and acyl-chain ordering are presented as a function of P/L, and discussed in view of different structural models.