Human Papillomavirus (HPV) is the causal agent of cervical cancer, one of the most common causes of death for women. The major capsid L1 protein self-assembles in Virus Like Particles (VLPs), which are highly immunogenic and suitable for vaccine production. In this study, a plastid transformation approach was assessed in order to produce a plant-based HPV-16 L1 vaccine. Transplastomic plants were obtained after transformation with vectors carrying a chimeric gene encoding the L1 protein either as the native viral (L1(v) gene) or a synthetic sequence optimized for expression in plant plastids (L1(pt) gene) under control of plastid expression signals. The L1 mRNA was detected in plastids and the L1 antigen accumulated up to 1.5% total leaf proteins only when vectors included the 5'-UTR and a short N-terminal coding segment (Downstream Box) of a plastid gene. The half-life of the engineered L1 protein, determined by pulse-chase experiments, is at least 8 h. Formation of immunogenic VLPs in chloroplasts was confirmed by capture ELISA assay using antibodies recognizing conformational epitopes and by electron microscopy.