Myrmecia warts induced by human papillomavirus type 1 (HPV1) are characterized by abundant eosinophilic inclusions associated with HPV1 E4 gene products. The major HPV1 E4 proteins are a 17-kilodalton (kDa) E1-E4 fusion protein and a 16-kDa species lacking the five E1 amino acids and a few E4 residues. To study the contribution of E4 proteins to the formation of myrmecia inclusions, we used a previously designed transient expression system in the rabbit VX2-R keratinocyte line. We find that the E1-E4 and an E4 protein without the E1 residues (E4-3200) form eosinophilic inclusions. Ultrastructural and immunoelectron microscopic studies show that the electron-dense, keratohyalin-like myrmecia inclusions are recognized by anti-E4 antibodies. They are associated with tonofilament bundles at their periphery in the cytoplasm or free of filaments in the nucleus. The E1-E4 inclusions formed in vitro are also homogeneously electron dense, and are usually associated with tonofilaments at their periphery in the cytoplasm and free of filaments in the nucleus. The E4-3200 inclusions are exclusively cytoplasmic and heterogeneously electron dense, with a fibrillar structure made of entangled 10-nm filaments. The expression of either protein in VX2-R cells does not result in the collapse of the cytokeratin network, as shown by immunofluorescence double-labeling experiments. This is in contrast to data reported for the HPV16 E1-E4 protein. Our findings indicate that the E1-E4 protein by itself accounts for the formation of myrmecia inclusions, and suggest that the five N-terminal E1 amino acids play a major role in the interaction of E4 proteins with intermediate filaments.