The song was written by Tom Kelly and Billy Steinberg, and produced by Nile Rodgers.
Madonna's voice is heard in a high register while a continuous arrangement of drums are heard along the bass-line.
The lyrics of the song are ambiguous and consist of hidden innuendo, interpreted in different ways.
It became her first number-one single on the Billboard Hot 100, while reaching the top of the charts in Australia, Canada and Japan, and the top-ten of other countries.
The song's music video portrayed Madonna sailing down the canals of Venice in a gondola, as well as roaming around a palace wearing a white wedding dress.
"Like a Virgin" has been covered by a number of artists and has appeared in or been referenced in feature films such as Reservoir Dogs, Moulin Rouge! and Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason.
Family groups sought to ban it as they believed the song promoted sex without marriage.
Scholars have credited "Like a Virgin" as the song which cemented Madonna's position as a pop culture icon.
The song is set in common time, with a moderately dance-groove tempo of 118 beats per minute.
It is composed in the key of F major with Madonna's voice ranging from the tonal nodes of low-tone G3 to high-tone C5.
Stephen Thomas Erlewine from Allmusic said that "Like a Virgin" was a definitive statement.
Dave Karger from Entertainment Weekly, while reviewing the album in 1995, felt that the song came off a bit repetitious and immature when compared to the present context.
In 2000, "Like a Virgin", was honored by Rolling Stone and MTV, as the fourth song on their list of the "100 Greatest Pop Songs".
Michael Paoletta from Billboard commented that the song sustained a "fevered dance-rock momentum."
In 2003, Madonna fans were asked to vote for their 'Top 20 Madonna singles of all-time', by Q magazine. "Like a Virgin" was allocated the fifth spot on the list.
"Like a Virgin" became Madonna's first of 12 number-one hits on the Billboard Hot 100, where it debuted at number 48 on the issue dated November 17, 1984.
The song reached number one on the Billboard Hot 100 chart the week of December 22, 1984 and remained there for six weeks.
"Like a Virgin" was certified gold by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) on January 10, 1985, for shipping a million copies across United States-the requirement for a gold single prior to 1989.
The song also reached number-one on the Hot Dance Music/Club Play chart, and was her first top-ten entry on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart at position nine.
It placed at two on the year-end chart for 1985, with Madonna becoming the top pop artist for the year.
In Canada, the song debuted on the RPM Singles Chart at number 71 on the RPM issue dated November 24, 1984, and reached the top of the chart on January 19, 1985.
The song debuted on the UK Singles Chart on November 17, 1984 at number 51, and peaked at number three on January 12, 1985; it spent a total of 18 weeks in the chart.
The song was certified gold by the British Phonographic Industry (BPI) for shipment of 500,000 copies across United Kingdom.
According to Official Charts Company, the song has sold 832,200 copies there as of August 2016.
Across Europe, the song peaked within the top-ten of the charts of Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Netherlands, Norway and Switzerland.
"Like a Virgin" became Madonna's first number-one song on the Australian Kent Music Report chart and on the Japanese International Singles Chart.
It peaked at number-two on the New Zealand Singles Chart, number 15 on the Swedish charts and peaked the Eurochart Hot 100 Singles.
The music video, directed by Mary Lambert, who worked with Madonna in her video for "Borderline", was shot in Venice, Italy and partly in New York City in July 1984.
In 1985, a live music video of "Like a Virgin" from The Virgin Tour filmed in Detroit, was used to promote Madonna Live: The Virgin Tour video release.
This version was nominated for Best Choreography at the 1986 MTV Video Music Awards.
The live performance of "Like a Virgin" from the Blond Ambition World Tour in Paris, France was released as a music video on May 9, 1991 to promote the documentary film Truth or Dare.
This version was nominated for two awards at the 1991 MTV Video Music Awards in the categories of Best Female Video and Best Choreography.