In the eukaryotic cell, both secreted and plasma membrane proteins are synthesized at the endoplasmic reticulum, then transported, via the Golgi complex, to the cell surface. Each of the compartments of this transport pathway carries out particular metabolic functions, and therefore presumably contains a distinct complement of membrane proteins. Thus, mechanisms must exist for localizing such proteins to their respective destinations. However, a major obstacle to the study of such mechanisms is that the isolation and detailed analysis of such internal membrane proteins pose formidable technical problems. We have therefore used the E1 glycoprotein from coronavirus MHV-A59 as a viral model for this class of protein. Here we present the primary structure of the protein, determined by analysis of cDNA clones prepared from viral mRNA. In combination with a previous study of its assembly into the endoplasmic reticulum membrane, the sequence reveals several unusual features of the protein which may be related to its intracellular localization.