Conjugates of ricin agglutinin and phytohemagglutinin with horseradish peroxidase (HRP) were used for a cytochemical study of internalization of their plasma membrane "receptors" in cultured isolated mouse dorsal root ganglion neurons. Labeling of cells with lectin-HRP was done at 4 degrees C, and internalization was performed at 37 degrees C in a culture medium free of lectin-HRP. 15-20 min after incubation at 37 degrees C, lectin-HRP receptor complexes were seen in vesicles or tubules located near the plasma membrane. After 1-3 h at 37 degrees C, lectin-HRP-receptor complexes accumulated in vesicles and tubules corresponding to acid phosphatase-rich vesicles and tubules (GERL) at the trans aspect of the Golgi apparatus. A few coated vesicles and probably some dense bodies contained HRP after 3-6 h of incubation at 37 degrees C. Soluble HRP was not endocytosed under the conditions of this experiment or when it was present in the incubation medium at 37 degrees C. Internalization of lectin-HRP-receptor conjugates was decreased or inhibited by mitochondrial respiration inhibitors but not by cytochalasin B or colchicine. These studies indicate that lectin-labeled plasma membrane moieties of neurons are endocytosed primarily in elements of GERL.