Beta,beta'-iminodipropionitrile (IDPN) is an agent that produces a marked impairment in the transport of neurofilaments. Its effect on other slowly transported cytoskeletal components such as tubulin and actin is variable. Previous studies have evaluated transport of neurofilaments after IDPN intoxication in a neurofilament-rich system (sciatic motor nerves) and in a system devoid of neurofilaments (axons of the dorsal motor nucleus of the vagus). In the former, IDPN impairs the transport of tubulin and actin but to a lesser degree than it does neurofilament proteins. In the latter, tubulin and actin transport were not impaired, and neurofilament proteins were not present. In this study we evaluated the transport of the cytoskeletal components in a system with an intermediate amount of neurofilaments (the visual system). In the visual system, there is a selective and marked (50%) impairment in the transport of neurofilaments with no impairment in transport of tubulin or microtubule-associated proteins (tau group). We conclude that these different patterns of impairment in transport reflect the differences in pre-intoxication neurofilament content of the nerves examined, the effect of IDPN on the transport of the other components of slow transport being secondary to the presence of stagnated neurofilaments. This model also suggests that transport of neurofilaments can be selectively impaired without producing an effect on other major slow transport components.