At a low pH, the influenza virus hemagglutinin (HA) undergoes conformational changes that promote membrane fusion. While the critical role of fusion peptide release from the trimer interface has been demonstrated previously, the role of globular head dissociation in the overall fusion mechanism remains unclear. To investigate this question, we have analyzed in detail the fusion activity and low pH-induced conformational changes of a mutant, Cys-HA, in which the globular head domains are locked together by engineered intermonomer disulfide bonds (L. Godley, J. Pfeifer, D. Steinhauer, B. Ely, G. Shaw, R. Kaufmann, E. Suchanek, C. Pabo, J. J. Skehel, D. C. Wiley, and S. Wharton, Cell 68:635-645, 1992). In this paper, we show that Cys-HA expressed on the cell surface is predominantly a disulfide-bonded trimer. Cell surface Cys-HA is impaired in its membrane fusion activity, as demonstrated by both content-mixing and lipid-mixing fusion assays. It is also impaired in its ability to change conformation at a low pH, as assessed by proteinase K sensitivity. The fusion activity and low pH-induced conformational changes of cell surface Cys-HA are, however, restored to nearly wild-type levels upon reduction of the intermonomer disulfide bonds. By using a set of conformation-specific monoclonal and anti-peptide antibodies, we found that purified Cys-HA trimers are impaired in changes that occur in the globular head domain interface. In addition, changes that occur at a great distance from the engineered intermonomer disulfide bonds, notably release of the fusion peptides, are also impaired. Our results are discussed with respect to current views of the fusion-active conformation of the HA trimer.