Complexes of melittin with detergents and phospholipids have been characterized by fluorescence, circular dichroism, ultracentrifugation, quasi-elastic light scattering and 1H nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) experiments. By ultracentrifugation and quasi-elastic light-scattering measurements it is shown that melittin forms stoichiometrically well-defined complexes with dodecylphosphocholine micelles consisting of one melittin molecule and approximately forty detergent molecules. Evidence from fluorescence, circular dichroism and 1H nuclear magnetic resonance experiments indicates that the conformation of melittin bound to micelles of various detergents or of diheptanoyl phosphatidylcholine is largely independent of the type of lipid and furthermore appears to be quite closely related to the conformation of melittin bound to phosphatidylcholine bilayers. 1H NMR is used to investigate the conformation of micelle-bound melittin in more detail and to compare certain aspects of the melittin conformation in the micelles with the spatial structures of monomeric and self-aggregated tetrameric melittin in aqueous solution. The experience gained with this system demonstrates that high resolution NMR of complexes of membrane proteins with micelles provides a viable method for conformational studies of membrane proteins.