Sterols are essential components of the plasma membrane in eukaryotic cells. Nystatin-resistant erg mutants were used in the present study to investigate the in vitro effects of altered sterol structure on membrane lipid composition, fluidity, and asymmetry of phospholipids. Quantitative analyses of the wild type and mutants erg2, erg3 and erg6 revealed that mutants have lower sterol (free)-to-phospholipid molar ratios than the wild type. Phosphatidylcholine content was decreased in erg2 and erg3 mutants; however, it was increased in erg6 strains as compared to normals. Phosphatidylserine content was increased in the erg6 mutant only. Fluorescence anisotropy decreased with temperature in both probes, and was lower for mutants than for the wild type, suggesting an increased freedom in rotational movement due to decreased membrane order. Investigation of changes in the aminophospholipid transbilayer distribution using two chemical probes, trinitrobenzene sulfonic acid and fluorescamine, revealed that the amounts of phosphatidylethanolamine derivatized by these probes were quite similar in both the wild type and various erg strains. The present findings suggest that adaptive responses in yeast cells with altered sterol structure are possibly manifested through changes in membrane lipid composition and fluidity, and not through transbilayer rearrangement of aminophospholipids.