Unlike properly folded and assembled proteins, most misfolded and incompletely assembled proteins are retained in the endoplasmic reticulum of mammalian cells and degraded without transport to the Golgi complex. To analyze the mechanisms underlying this unique sorting process and its fidelity, the fate of C-terminally truncated fragments of influenza hemagglutinin was determined. An assortment of different fragments was generated by adding puromycin at low concentrations to influenza virus-infected tissue culture cells. Of the fragments generated, <2% was secreted, indicating that the system for detecting defects in newly synthesized proteins is quite stringent. The majority of secreted species corresponded to folding domains within the viral spike glycoprotein. The retained fragments acquired a partially folded structure with intrachain disulfide bonds and conformation-dependent antigenic epitopes. They associated with two lectin-like endoplasmic reticulum chaperones (calnexin and calreticulin) but not BiP/GRP78. Inhibition of the association with calnexin and calreticulin by the addition of castanospermine significantly increased fragment secretion. However, it also caused association with BiP/GRP78. These results indicated that the association with calnexin and calreticulin was involved in retaining the fragments. They also suggested that BiP/GRP78 could serve as a backup for calnexin and calreticulin in retaining the fragments. In summary, the results showed that the quality control system in the secretory pathway was efficient and sensitive to folding defects, and that it involved multiple interactions with endoplasmic reticulum chaperones.