The coat protein of a filamentous phage (M13) enters the cytoplasmic membrane from two directions: from the outside upon infection and from the cell interior late in the viral life cycle prior to phage assembly and extrusion. Binding of 125I-labeled anti-coat protein antibody to spheroplasts or to inverted vesicles was used to assay the orientation of coat protein in the membrane. Both parental and newly synthesized coat protein were found to be exposed on the outer surface of the cytoplasmic membrane. Coat protein in intact infected cells is also accessible to external antibody. Thus two different processes of assembling a protein into membrane, each starting from a different membrane surface, appear to produce similar surface orientations.