To define the topology of the skeletal muscle ryanodine receptor (RyR1), enhanced GFP (EGFP) was fused in-frame to the C terminus of RyR1, replacing a series of C-terminal deletions that started near the beginning or the end of predicted transmembrane helices M1-M10. The constructs were expressed in HEK-293 (human embryonic kidney cell line 293) or mouse embryonic fibroblast (MEF) cells, and confocal microscopy of intact and saponin-permeabilized cells was used to determine the subcellular location of the truncated fusion proteins. The fusion protein truncated after M3 exhibited uniform cytoplasmic fluorescence, which was lost after permeabilization, indicating that proposed M', M", M1, M2, and M3 sequences are not membrane-associated. The fusion protein truncated at the end of the M4-M5 loop and containing M4 was membrane-associated. All longer truncated fusion proteins were also associated with intracellular membranes. Mapping by protease digestion and extraction of isolated microsomes demonstrated that EGFP positioned after either M5, the N-terminal half of M7 (M7a), or M8 was located in the lumen, and that EGFP positioned after either M4, M6, the C-terminal half of M7 (M7b), or M10 was located in the cytoplasm. These results indicate that RyR1 contains eight transmembrane helices, organized as four hairpin loops. The first hairpin is likely to be made up of M4a-M4b. However, it could be made up from M3-M4, which might form a hairpin loop even though M3 alone is not membrane-associated. The other three hairpin loops are formed from M5-M6, M7a-M7b, and M8-M10. M9 is not a transmembrane helix, but it might form a selectivity filter between M8 and M10.