Maturation and release of the Ebola virus glycoprotein GP were studied in cells infected with either Ebola or recombinant vaccinia viruses. Significant amounts of GP were found in the culture medium in nonvirion forms. The major form represented the large subunit GP1 that was shed after release of its disulfide linkage to the smaller transmembrane subunit GP2. The minor form were intact GP1,2 complexes incorporated into virosomes. Vector-expressed GP formed spikes morphologically indistinguishable from spikes on virus particles, indicating that spike assembly is independent of other viral proteins. Analysis of a truncation mutant revealed an early and almost complete release of GP1,2 molecules, showing that membrane anchoring is mediated by the carboxy-terminal hydrophobic domain of GP2. We have also compared wild-type virus which requires transcriptional editing for synthesis of full-length GP with a variant that does not depend on editing. Both viruses released comparable amounts of GP1, but the variant expressed only minute amounts of the small, soluble GP which is the expression product of nonedited mRNA species of the GP gene. The abundant shedding of soluble GP1 may play an important role in the immunopathology of Ebola hemorrhagic fever in experimentally and naturally infected hosts.