Blebs are cellular protrusions that are used by cells for multiple purposes including locomotion. A mechanical model for the problem of pressure-driven blebs based on force and moment balances of an axisymmetric shell model is proposed. The formation of a bleb is initiated by weakening the shell over a small region, and the deformation of the cellular membrane from the cortex is obtained during inflation. However, simply weakening the shell leads to an area increase of more than 4 %, which is physically unrealistic. Thus, the model is extended to include a reconfiguration process that allows large blebs to form with small increases in area. It is observed that both geometric and biomechanical constraints are important in this process. In particular, it is shown that although blebs are driven by a pressure difference across the cellular membrane, it is not the limiting factor in determining bleb size. © 2013 Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg.