This practice note discusses initial public offerings (IPOs), including the legal requirements under securities laws, the parties in an IPO and their roles, the underwriting process, and the sales and distribution process. It also reviews ongoing reporting obligations and liability as well as other considerations in becoming a public company. In an IPO, a company offers and sells its securities, usually common stock, to the public for the first time in an offering registered with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (the SEC). Upon consummation of a typical IPO, the company will list its stock on a national securities exchange, such as the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE), or one of the Nasdaq stock markets (Nasdaq). Companies considering an IPO need to understand the legal requirements and implications of becoming public so that they can carefully weigh the benefits and costs of being a public company before committing the time and resources required to conduct an IPO.