The distribution of the alpha- and beta-subunits of G-proteins and their disposition in rat liver plasma and intracellular membranes was investigated. Western blotting, using antibodies that recognised the alpha-subunit of the inhibitory and the beta-subunits of most G-proteins, identified 41 and 36 kDa polypeptides respectively in all plasma membrane functional domains, in endosomes as well as in Golgi membranes. Lysosomes were devoid of these subunits. The highest levels of G-protein subunits were found in bile canalicular plasma membranes prepared by density gradient centrifugation followed by free-flow electrophoresis. Separation of membrane proteins into extrinsic and intrinsic components was carried out by extraction of the membranes at pH 11.0 and by partitioning the membranes in Triton X-114/aqueous phases. The results demonstrated that the alpha- and beta-subunits were tightly associated with the hepatic membranes but they could be solubilised by extraction with detergent, e.g. SDS. Prolonged incubation in the presence of GTP analogues also released up to approximately 50% of the alpha-subunit of inhibitory G-proteins from membranes. The beta-subunit was still associated with membranes after alkaline extraction. The results emphasise the strong association of G-protein subunits with liver membranes, and show that these proteins are distributed widely in the plasma membrane and along the endocytic pathways of hepatocytes.