To enable cell surface localization of the human multidrug resistance protein (MRP1, ABCC1) and to assess the role of the extracellular domains of this transporter, the FLAG epitope tag was introduced into different extracellular loops of the three membrane-spanning domains (MSDs) of the transporter. We constructed and expressed various partially and fully glycosylation-deficient, FLAG-tagged MRP1 proteins in a Vaccinia virus-based transient expression system, and the cell surface expression level of MRP1 on intact cells was followed by flow cytometry, using the FLAG tag specific monoclonal antibody M2. We also expressed the wild-type MRP1 protein and some of the FLAG-tagged mutants in stably transfected HEK293 cells, and followed the cell surface expression and the transport function of MRP1 both by monitoring the efflux of fluorescent substrate and by their ability to confer resistance to HEK293 transfectants to anticancer agents such as daunorubicin and etoposide. When we inserted the FLAG epitope in extracellular loops of the MSD1 or MSD3, the tag was accessible upon removal of N-glycosylation sites (N --> Q at positions 17, 23, and 1006, respectively), whereas the FLAG epitope placed in the MSD2 was not accessible even after removal of all three N-glycosylation sites, indicating that MSD2 region is deeply buried in the plasma membrane. However, all FLAG tagged MRP1 mutants were expressed at the cell surface to the same extent as the wild-type protein and also exhibited normal transport function. Our results demonstrate that the accessibility of the external FLAG epitope is strongly dependent on the position of the tag and the glycosylation state of the different FLAG-tagged MRP1s, and the conformation of extracellular loops in MSD1 and MDS3 does not appear to contribute to the functional status of MRP1.