Protein-body membranes (PBMs) were isolated from cotyledons of Phaseolus vulgaris L. by a procedure involving osmotic shock of purified protein bodies. The purified PBMs have a characteristic density of 1.16 g cm(-3). Treatment of the membranes with increasing concentrations of detergent (Triton X-100) or with a solution at pH 12.0 showed that the membranes contained a characteristic integral protein (IMP) with a relative molecular mass of 25,000. This IMP is not a glycoprotein. When developing cotyledons were labeled with (3)H-amino acids for 2-3 h, a radioactive polypeptide with the same mobility on denaturing polyacrylamide gels as IMP was found to be associated with the rough endoplasmic reticulum (ER). During a 24-h chase, a considerable portion of the radioactivity slowly transferred into the IMP associated with more rapidly sedimenting organelles, which sedimented in the same region of the sucrose gradients as the PBMs. Antibodies prepared against purified IMP crossreacted with an ER-associated protein which had the same mobility on denaturing acrylamide gels as authentic IMP. Synthesis of IMP occurred at all stages of cotyledon development examined, but not during seed germination. The results show that a newly synthesized protein of the PBM is associated with the rough ER, just like the soluble matrix proteins, phaseolin (R. Bollini, W. Van der Wilden and M.J. Chrispeels, 1983, J. Cell Biol. 96,999-1007) and phytohemagglutinin (M.J. Chrispeels and R. Bollini, 1982, Plant Physiol. 70, 1425-1428), but that the chase-out from the ER is much slower for IMP than for the matrix proteins.