Peritoneal rat macrophages expressed solely an Na(+)-dependent, concentrative nucleoside transporter, which possesses a single Na(+)-binding site and transports purine nucleosides and uridine but not thymidine or deoxycytidine. The Michaelis-Menten constants for formycin B and Na+ were about 6 microns and 14 mM, respectively, and the estimated Na+:formycin B stoichiometry was 1:1. Rat macrophages accumulated 5 microM formycin B to a steady-state level exceeding that in the medium by about 500-fold during 60 min of incubation at 37 degrees C. Concentrative formycin B transport was resistant to inhibition by nitrobenzylthioinosine, lidoflazine, dilazep and nifedipine, but was slightly inhibited by high concentrations of dipyridamole (greater than 10 microM) and probenecid (greater than 100 microM). Mouse peritoneal macrophages and lines of mouse macrophages and normal rat kidney cells expressed Na(+)-dependent, active nucleoside transport but in addition significant Na(+)-independent, facilitated nucleoside transport. Facilitated nucleoside transport in these cells was sensitive to inhibition by nitrobenzylthioinosine, dilazep and dipyridamole. The presence of these inhibitors greatly enhanced the concentrative accumulation of formycin B by these cells by inhibiting the efflux via the facilitated transporter of the formycin B actively transported into the cells. Whereas rat macrophages lacked high-affinity nitrobenzylthioinosine-binding sites, mouse macrophages and normal rat kidney cells possessed about 10,000 such sites/cell. Rat and mouse erythrocytes, rat lymphocytes, and lines of Novikoff rat hepatoma cells, Chinese hamster ovary cells, Mus dunni cells and embryonic monkey kidney cells expressed only facilitated nucleoside transport.