When developing cotyledons of Phaseolus vulgaris L. were labeled with [(3)H]fucose, fucose-labeled phytohemagglutinin (PHA) was found in organelles with average densities of 1.13 g cm(-3) and 1.22 g cm(-3). The position of these organelles on isopycnic sucrose gradients was independent of the presence of MgCl2 and ethylenediaminetetraacetate in the media, indicating that the fucose-labeled PHA was not associated with the rough endoplasmic reticulum (ER). The organelles with a density of 1.13 g cm(-3) were identified as membranes of the Golgi apparatus on the basis of the similarity of their sedimentation properties and those of the Golgi marker enzyme, inosine diphosphatase, in both isopycnic and rate-zonal sucrose gradients. The organelles with a density of 1.22 g cm(-3) were identified as small (0.1-0.4 μm), electron-dense vesicles with a protein content similar to that of the protein bodies. Pulsechase experiments with [(3)H]fucose indicated that fucose-labeled PHA first appeared in the Golgi-apparatus-derived membranes and later in the dense vesicles. Fucose-labeled PHA chased out of the Golgi apparatus first, then out of the dense vesicles, and accumulated in the soluble portion of the homogenate which contained the contents of the broken protein bodies. Fucose-labeled PHA chased out of the two types of organelles with a t 1/2 of 20-30 min, a rate three to four times faster than newly synthesized PHA chases out of the bulk of the ER (Chrispeels, M.J., Bollini, R., 1982, Plant Physiol. 70, 1425-1428). This result indicates that the Golgi apparatus is a much smaller compartment than the ER in the storage parenchyma cells. The sodium ionophore, monensin, which interferes with the function of the Golgi apparatus of animal cells, blocks the biosynthesis and-or transport of fucose- and galactose-labeled macromolecules to the cotyledon cell walls. Monensin also blocks the transport of labeled PHA out of the Golgi apparatus and into the protein bodies. These results provide the first biochemical evidence that a specific storage protein which accumulates in seeds is modified in, and passes through, the Golgi apparatus on its way to the protein bodies.