Previous studies have shown that the Golgi complex is broken down into dispersed clusters of vesiculotubular elements as mammalian cells enter mitosis and is reformed in each daughter cell in telophase/cytokinesis. In the present investigation, mannosidase II (a membrane-bound enzyme involved in oligosaccharide processing) was used as a marker to explore the fate of the Golgi complex in dividing L929 and CHO cells in some additional detail. Immunofluorescence microscopy demonstrated a juxta- or perinuclear staining for mannosidase II (man II) in interphase and immunoelectron microscopy revealed that it was restricted to the stacked Golgi cisternae at this stage. As the cells entered mitosis, the staining for man II assumed a pattern of dispersed elements in prophase and then turned into a diffuse pattern during metaphase and anaphase. At the electron microscopic level, this corresponded to a successive disorganization of the Golgi complex, first into structurally modified stacks scattered throughout the cytoplasm, and thereafter into small clusters of vesicles and tubules. In parallel, most of the immunoreactivity for man II was shifted into partially fragmented cisternae of endoplasmic reticulum, and only small amounts were found in the clusters just mentioned. During telophase/cytokinesis a circumscribed staining for man II reappeared in each daughter cell. At the electron microscopic level, cisternal stacks positive for man II were found to reform at the same time as immunoreactivity disappeared from the endoplasmic reticulum. Typically, the Golgi region was first located on the proximal side of the nucleus as related to the intercellular bridge, and then moved to the distal side of the nucleus before the cells were about to separate. Treatment of synchronized mitotic cells with brefeldin A, a fungal metabolite that inhibits endoplasmic reticulum to Golgi transport, prevented reformation of the Golgi complex in telophase/cytokinesis. Nevertheless, the separation of the daughter cells was completed at a similar rate as in the controls. On the basis of these findings, an extended model of the disorganization and reorganization of the Golgi complex in association with mitosis is presented. According to this model the disorganization of the Golgi complex at the onset of mitosis is a two-step process: the Golgi stacks are first separated from each other and spread out in the cytoplasm; thereafter the Golgi stacks disintegrate, at least in part by return of Golgi components to the endoplasmic reticulum. In interphase cells, similar changes in the organization of the Golgi complex are produced by microtubule-disruptive drugs (dispersion of the stacks) and brefeldin A (redistribution of Golgi proteins into the endoplasmic reticulum), respectively.