The recent development of a cell culture infection model for hepatitis C virus (HCV) permits the production of infectious particles in vitro. In this report, we demonstrate that infectious particles are present both within the infected cells and in the supernatant. Kinetic analysis indicates that intracellular particles constitute precursors of the secreted infectious virus. Ultracentrifugation analyses indicate that intracellular infectious viral particles are similar in size (approximately 65 to 70 nm) but different in buoyant density (approximately 1.15 to 1.20 g/ml) from extracellular particles (approximately 1.03 to 1.16 g/ml). These results indicate that infectious HCV particles are assembled intracellularly and that their biochemical composition is altered during viral egress.