Plant Golgi stacks are mobile organelles that can travel along actin filaments. How COPII (coat complex II) vesicles are transferred from endoplasmic reticulum (ER) export sites to the moving Golgi stacks is not understood. We have examined COPII vesicle transfer in high-pressure frozen/freeze-substituted plant cells by electron tomography. Formation of each COPII vesicle is accompanied by the assembly of a ribosome-excluding scaffold layer that extends approximately 40 nm beyond the COPII coat. These COPII scaffolds can attach to the cis-side of the Golgi matrix, and the COPII vesicles are then transferred to the Golgi together with their scaffolds. When Atp115-GFP, a green fluorescent protein (GFP) fusion protein of an Arabidopsis thaliana homolog of the COPII vesicle-tethering factor p115, was expressed, the GFP localized to the COPII scaffold and to the cis-side of the Golgi matrix. Time-lapse imaging of Golgi stacks in live root meristem cells demonstrated that the Golgi stacks alternate between phases of fast, linear, saltatory movements (0.9-1.25 microm/s) and slower, wiggling motions (<0.4 microm/s). In root meristem cells, approximately 70% of the Golgi stacks were connected to an ER export site via a COPII scaffold, and these stacks possessed threefold more COPII vesicles than the Golgi not associated with the ER; in columella cells, only 15% of Golgi stacks were located in the vicinity of the ER. We postulate that the COPII scaffold first binds to and then fuses with the cis-side of the Golgi matrix, transferring its enclosed COPII vesicle to the cis-Golgi.