The temperature-dependence of fluid phase endocytosis was investigated in L929 cells, using a recently described fluorescence approach with trimethylamino-diphenylhexatriene (TMA-DPH). In interaction with cells, this probe is rapidly incorporated into the plasma membrane and follows its intracellular traffic of internalization-recycling, thus behaving as a suitable marker for fluid phase endocytosis. The kinetics of the process may be followed accurately by simple fluorescence intensity measurements, while complementary fluorescence anisotropy and micrographic data may be obtained in parallel with the same probe. It was shown that the formation of endocytic vesicles was not inhibited by cooling the cells, even down to 4 degrees C, but only reduced in a quasi-linear way with temperature. Conversely the further fusion events between the vesicles and large vacuolar bodies (endosomes, lysosomes) were strongly and discontinuously influenced: they were almost totally suppressed below 15 degrees C. The evolution of the membrane fluidity during endocytosis, which was monitored by fluorescence anisotropy measurements, indicated that the fusion inhibition was probably correlated with the inability of the endocytic vesicles to shed their initial clathrin coat at low temperature. Moreover, microscopic observations showed that at low temperature the endocytic vesicles hardly moved from the place of their formation. Pretreatment of the cells with microtubule and microfilament depolymerizing drugs (cytochalasin B, vinblastine) led to the conclusion that the cytoskeleton played little role in the vesicle movements. Altogether, the results suggested that the progression of the vesicles towards the cell core resulted from successive fusion events, which explained why they were considerably slowed down by cooling.