The tetrameric (H3/H4)2 146 base pair (bp) DNA and hexameric (H3/H4)2(H2A/H2B)1 146 bp DNA subnucleosomal particles have been prepared by depletion of chicken erythrocyte core particles using 3 or 4 M urea, 250 mM sodium chloride, and a cation-exchange resin. The particles have been characterized by cross-linking and sedimentation equilibrium. The structures of the particles, particularly the tetrameric, have been studied by sedimentation velocity, low-angle neutron scattering, circular dichroism, optical melting, and nuclease digestion with DNase I, micrococcal nuclease, and exonuclease III. It is concluded that since the radius of gyration of the DNA in the tetramer particle and its maximum dimension are very close to those of the core particle, no expansion occurs on removal of all the H2A and H2B. Nuclease digestion results indicate that histones H3/H4 in the tetramer particle protect a total of 70 bp of DNA that are centrally located within the 146 bp. Within the 70 bp DNA length, the two terminal regions of 10 bp are, however, not strongly protected from digestion. The optical melting profile of both particles can be resolved into three components and is consistent with the model of histone protection of DNA proposed from nuclease digestion. The structure proposed for the tetrameric histone complex bound to DNA is that of a compact particle containing 1.75 superhelical turns of DNA, in which the H3 and H4 histone location is the same as found for the core particle in chromatin by histone/DNA cross-linking [Shick, V. V., Belyavsky, A. V., Bavykin, S. G., & Mirzabekov, A. D. (1980) J. Mol. Biol. 139, 491-517]. Optical melting of the hexamer particle shows that each (H2A/H2B)1 dimer of the core particle protects about 22 base pairs of DNA.