We have previously identified a fraction containing several assembly polypeptides (AP) that promotes reassembly of clathrin into vesicle-free coat structures [Zaremba S, Keen JH: J Cell Biol 97:1339, 1983]. The AP are prepared from purified bovine brain-coated vesicles by extraction with 0.5 M TRIS-HCl followed by Sepharose CL-4B column chromatography. Centrifugation in sucrose gradients under nonassembly conditions supports earlier observations suggesting that four active polypeptides in the AP preparation, of Mr approximately 110,000, 100,000, 50,000, and 16,500 are present in a discrete complex that is incorporated as a unit into reassembled coats. The 16,500-dalton polypeptide does not coelectrophorese with authentic bovine brain calmodulin and does not exhibit calmodulin's Ca2+-induced shift in electrophoretic mobility. When the partially purified AP fraction was digested with elastase, the Mr approximately 110,000 and 100,000 polypeptides were rapidly degraded with little or no effect on the Mr approximately 50,000 and 16,500 bands. This treatment abolished the in vitro coat-forming ability of the AP fraction and the loss of activity closely parallels the loss of the Mr approximately 100,000 band. Disappearance of the Mr approximately 110,000 and 100,000 bands is accompanied by the generation of new bands at Mr approximately 76,000 and 65,000. When the elastase-treated AP is examined by sucrose gradient sedimentation in nonassembly buffers, the new bands continue to cosediment with the Mr approximately 50,000 and 16,500 polypeptides. This indicates that the elastase digestion has cleaved off a fragment of the Mr approximately 110,000 and 100,000 bands, leaving behind a truncated, inactive AP complex. A protein kinase activity has been detected in coated vesicle preparations that utilizes the 50,000-dalton AP as its preferred substrate [Keen JH, Zaremba S: J Cell Biol 97:174a, 1983]. Elastase treatment does not abolish this activity, indicating that the kinase by itself is not sufficient for maintaining reassembly activity.