Four mutants of Chlamydomonas reinhardtii representing independent gene loci have been shown to lack totally (pf-18, pf-19, and pf-15) or nearly totally (pf-20) the central microtubular pair complex in isolated axonemal preparations. Analysis of 35S-labeled axonemal proteins, using two methods of electrophoresis, reveals that all four mutants lack or are markedly deficient in 18 polypeptides, ranging in molecular weight from 360,000 to 20,000, that are regularly present in wild-type axonemes. Analyses of axonemal proteins labeled by cellular growth on 32P-labeled medium indicates that a subset of 8 of the 18 polypeptides are phosphorylated. Mutant and wild-type axonemes and flagella have been analyzed for their content of tubulin subunits using a high resolution two-dimensional electrophoresis system combined with agarose gel overlays containing either anti-alpha or anti-beta tubulin sera prepared from Chlamydomonas tubulins. The immunoprecipitates identify two major alpha tubulins, a major beta tubulin, and a minor component which is also precipitated by the anti-beta serum. None of these tubulins shows a specific defect in mutant axonemes, nor do the tubulin polypeptides show altered two-dimensional map positions in the mutant flagella. The 18 polypeptides provide a useful signature for identifying other mutants affecting the central-pair microtubular complex. Such mutants could be useful in defining the structural or functional role of these polypeptides in the central microtubules. Efforts to obtain additional central-pair mutants based on the motility phenotype of the four mutants analyzed here have yielded mutants which are allelic to three of the four mutants.