Although rapid signaling by estrogen at the plasma membrane is established, it is controversial as to the nature of the receptor protein. Estrogen may bind membrane proteins comparable to classical nuclear estrogen receptors (ERs), but some studies identify nonclassical receptors, such as G protein-coupled receptor (GPR)30. We took several approaches to define membrane-localized estrogen-binding proteins. In endothelial cells (ECs) from ERalpha/ERbeta combined-deleted mice, estradiol (E2) failed to specifically bind, and did not activate cAMP, ERK, or phosphatidyinositol 3-kinase or stimulate DNA synthesis. This is in contrast to wild-type ECs, indicating the lack of any functional estrogen-binding proteins in ERalpha/ERbeta combined-deleted ECs. To directly determine the identity of membrane and nuclear-localized ER, we isolated subcellular receptor pools from MCF7 cells. Putative ER proteins were trypsin digested and subjected to tandem array mass spectrometry. The output analysis identified membrane and nuclear E2-binding proteins as classical human ERalpha. We also determined whether GPR30 plays any role in E2 rapid actions. MCF7 (ER and GPR30 positive) and SKBR-3 (ER negative, GPR30 positive) cells were incubated with E2. Only MCF7 responded with significantly increased signaling. In MCF7, the response to E2 was not different in cells transfected with small interfering RNA to green fluorescent protein or GPR30. In contrast, interfering RNA to ERalpha or ER inhibition prevented rapid signaling and resulting biology in MCF7. In breast cancer and ECs, nuclear and membrane ERs are the same proteins. Furthermore, classical ERs mediate rapid signals induced by E2 in these cells.