The potential of cowpea mosaic virus (CPMV), a plant icosahedral virus, for the presentation of foreign peptides and proteins is reported. The most prominent feature at the virus surface is a region of the smaller of the two coat proteins (S) which has been extensively used for the insertion of foreign peptides. Given the availability of the three-dimensional structure of the native virus and the amenability of foreign peptide-expressing CPMV chimeras to crystallisation, immunological data can be correlated with the conformational state of the foreign insert. The latter is influenced by proteolysis which occurs within the foreign inserts. In an effort to offer an alternative context for peptide expression, extensive exploration of a second region of the S protein is reported with respect to tolerance to small insertions. Moreover, to make CPMV suitable for a wider spectrum of presentation, a technique was developed to allow surface coupling of a peptide which can serve as the anchoring point for a range of proteins. This new approach is also widely applicable for the direct chemical cross-linking of peptides and full-length protein domains to the viral capsid.