The formation of amyloid aggregates is related to the onset of a number of human diseases. Recent studies provide compelling evidence for the existence of related fibrillar structures in bacterial inclusion bodies (IBs). Bacteria might thus provide a biologically relevant and tuneable system to study amyloid aggregation and how to interfere with it. Particularly suited for such studies are protein models for which structural information is available in both IBs and amyloid states. The only high-resolution structure of an infectious amyloid state reported to date is that of the HET-s prion forming domain (PFD). Importantly, recent solid-state NMR data indicates that the structure of HET-s PFD in IBs closely resembles that of the infectious fibrils. Here we present an exhaustive conformational characterization of HET-s IBs in order to establish the aggregation of this prion in bacteria as a consistent cellular model in which the effect of autologous or heterologous protein quality machineries and/or anti-aggregational and anti-prionic drugs can be further studied. © 2009 Sabaté et al; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.