The structure of cubic Cowpea mosaic virus crystals, compressed at 330 MPa in a diamond anvil cell, was refined at 2.8 A from data collected using ultrashort-wavelength (0.331 A) synchrotron radiation. With respect to the structure at atmospheric pressure, order is increased with lower Debye Waller factors and a larger number of ordered water molecules. Hydrogen-bond lengths are on average shorter and the cavity volume is strongly reduced. A tentative mechanistic explanation is given for the coexistence of disordered and ordered cubic crystals in crystallization drops and for the disorder-order transition observed in disordered crystals submitted to high pressure. Based on such explanation, it can be concluded that pressure would in general improve, albeit to a variable extent, the order in macromolecular crystals.