Analysis of native disulfide-bonded protein oligomers in paramyxoviruses showed that some viral proteins are consistently present as covalent complexes. In isolated Sendai virus the hemagglutinating protein HN is present in homodimeric and homotetrameric forms, and the minor nucleocapsid protein P exists partly as a monomer and partly as a disulfide-linked homotrimer. Similar disulfide-linked complexes were observed in Newcastle disease virus (strain HP-16), in which HN exists as a homodimer and some of the major nucleocapsid protein NP exists as a homotrimer. Noncovalent intermolecular interactions between proteins were studied with the reversible chemical cross-linkers dimethyl-3,3'-dithiobispropionimidate and methyl 3-[(p-azidophenyl)dithio]propionimidate, which contain disulfide bridges and a 1.1-nm separation between their functional groups. The same results were achieved with both reagents. The conditions of preparation, isolation, and storage of the viruses affected the protein-protein interactions observed upon cross-linking. Homooligomers of the glycoprotein F, the matrix protein M, and the major nucleocapsid protein NP were produced in both Sendai and Newcastle disease viruses after mild cross-linking of all viral preparations examined, but NP-M heterodimer formation in both viruses was most prevalent in early harvest preparations that were cross-linked soon after isolation. The ability of NP and M to form a heterodimer upon cross-linking indicates that the matrix protein layer lies in close proximity (within 1.1 nm) to the nucleocapsid in the newly formed virion. Some noncovalent intermolecular protein interactions in Sendai and Newcastle disease viruses, i.e., those leading to the formation of F, NP, and M homooliogmers upon cross-linking, are more stable to virus storage than others, i.e., those leading to the formation of an NP-M heterodimer upon cross-linking. The storage-induced loss of the ability of NP and M to form a heterodimer is not accompanied by any apparent loss of infectivity. This indicates that some spacial relationships which form during virus assembly can alter after particle formation and are not essential for the ensuing stages of the infectious process.