Tertiary amine local anesthetics (dibucaine, tetracaine, procaine) reversibly affect the morphology of untransformed BALB/3T3 cells and the organization of membrane-associated cytoskeletal elements. In the presence of these drugs cells contract and become rounded in shape with the appearance of numerous surface "blebs." Electron microscope examination of anesthetic-treated cells revealed significant reductions in plasma membrane-associated microtubules and microfilaments and/or their plasma membrane attachment. The relationship of the findings on local anesthetic-induced changes in cellular cytoskeletal systems is discussed in relation to previous proposals on plasma membrane organization and control of cell surface receptor topography and mobility.

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