One of the major differences between fermions and bosons is that fermionic states have a maximum occupation number of one, whereas the occupation number for bosonic states is in principle unlimited. For bosons that are made up of fermions, one could ask the question to what extent the Pauli principle for the constituent fermions would limit the boson occupation number. Intuitively one can expect the maximum occupation number to be proportional to the available volume for the bosons divided by the volume occupied by the fermions inside one boson, though a rigorous derivation of this result has not been given before. In this letter we show how the maximum occupation number can be calculated from the ground-state energy of a fermionic generalized pairing problem. A very accurate analytical estimate of this eigenvalue is derived. From that a general expression is obtained for the maximum occupation number of a composite boson state, based solely on the intrinsic fermionic structure of the bosons. The consequences for Bose–Einstein condensates of excitons in semiconductors and ultra cold trapped atoms are discussed.