Assembly of Flock House virus in infected Drosophila cells proceeds through an intermediate, the provirion, which lacks infectivity until the coat precursor protein, alpha, undergoes a spontaneous "maturation" cleavage (A. Schneemann, W. Zhong, T. M. Gallagher, and R. R. Rueckert, J. Virol 6:6728, 1992). We describe here methods for purifying provirions in a state which permitted dissociation and reassembly. Dissociation, to monomeric alpha protein and free RNA, was accomplished by freezing at pH 9.0 in the presence of 0.5 M salt and 0.1 M urea. When dialyzed at low ionic strength and pH 6.5, the dissociation products reassembled spontaneously to form homogeneous provirions with a normal complement of RNA as judged by cosedimentation with authentic virions and by ability to undergo maturation cleavage with acquisition of substantial, though subnormal, infectivity. Reconstitution experiments, i.e., remixing components after separating RNA from capsid protein, generated abnormal particles, suggesting the presence in the unfractionated dissociation products of an unidentified "nucleating" component.