Liver rough endoplasmic reticulum (RER) membranes were isolated from rats given [3H]orotic acid for 48 h (ribosomal RNA [rRNA] label) or for 3 h along with 5-fluoroorotate; this latter procedure permits the labeling of cytoplasmic messenger RNAs (mRNAs) in the absence of rRNA labeling. More than 50% of the labeled mRNA remained attached to membranes of the RER after complete removal of ribosomes with a buffer of high ionic strength in the presence of puromycin. Under similar conditions, membranes retained 40% of their polyadenylate as determined by a [3H]-polyuridylate hybridization assay. Treatment of mRNA-labeled endoplasmic reticulum membranes with pancreatic RNase indicates that the polyadenylate and possibly nonpolyadenylate-pyrimidine portions of the messenger are involved in the binding of mRNA to the membranes. The implication of these results in furthering our understanding of the mechanisms of the translational regulation of genetic expression is discussed.