Ultraviolet (254 nm) irradiation of the bacteriophage MS2 results in the decrease of the number of antigenic determinants exposed on the virion surface. The cross-section of the decrease, as measured by the number of anti-MS2 IgG molecules bound per virion, is 10(-16) mm2 per photon. The decrease of the phage-antibody binding proceeds after irradiation with a rate constant of about 5 x 10(-3) min-1. Since the antigenic determinants of the phage MS2 coat protein does not contain photoreactive amino acid residues, the irradiation-induced decrease of the phage antibody binding is determined, most probably, by the shielding of the antigenic determinants. Such shielding could be caused by rearrangement of coat protein molecules and/or of the capsid induced by photomodification of non-antigenic fragments of coat protein and/or of intraphage RNA.