To study sorting in the endocytic pathway of a phagocytic and macropinocytic cell, monoclonal antibodies to membrane proteins of Dictyostelium discoideum were generated. Whereas the p25 protein was localized to the cell surface, p80 was mostly present in intracellular endocytic compartments as observed by immunofluorescence as well as immunoelectron microscopy analysis. The p80 gene was identified and encodes a membrane protein presumably involved in copper transport. Expression of chimeric proteins revealed that the cytoplasmic domain of p80 was sufficient to cause constitutive endocytosis and localization of the protein to endocytic compartments. Dileucine- and tyrosine-based endocytic signals described previously in mammalian systems were also capable of targeting chimera to endocytic compartments. In phagocytosing cells no membrane sorting was observed during formation of the phagosome. Both p25 and p80 were incorporated non-selectively in nascent phagosomes, and then retrieved shortly after phagosome closure. Our results emphasize the fact that very active membrane traffic takes place in phagocytic and macropinocytic cells. This is coupled with precise membrane sorting to maintain the specific composition of endocytic compartments.