Each day, rod photoreceptors of the vertebrate retina synthesize rhodopsin and insert it into new membranes of the rod outer segment (ROS). The authors determined which components of the rod cell transport opsin from the Golgi to the ROS by a combined EM autoradiographic and immunocytochemical study using radiolabeled amino acid precursors and antiopsin antibodies. Radiolabeled proteins in the ellipsoid region of Xenopus laevis retinal rods were localized by comparison of the distribution of silver grains with the predicted distribution generated by a hypothetical source: grain matrix. Sources of decay were not uniformly distributed. Small vesicles compressed between mitochondria and clustered beneath the connecting cilium that joins the inner to the outer segment contained more than 30% of the radiolabel and had a specific activity 17 times higher than the surrounding cytoplasm. Opsin was localized immunocytochemically on thin sections of retinas embedded in Lowicryl K4M (Polysciences; Warrington, PA) by reaction sequentially with biotinyl-rabbit antifrog opsin, biotinyl-sheep antirabbit F(ab')2, and avidin-ferritin. Golgi apparatus, intermitochondrial vesicles, and vesicles that clustered beneath the connecting cilium were prominently labeled. Subellipsoid smooth endoplasmic reticulum was labeled at background levels. These results demonstrate that intracellular vesicular membranes transport newly synthesized opsin from the Golgi to the base of the connecting cilium of X. laevis retinas. Antibody labeled the outer segment plasma membrane at a 10-fold greater density than the contiguous inner segment plasma membrane. The polarized distribution of opsin apparently involves not only vectorial transport of opsin in the inner segment but also restrictions to the randomization of opsin inserted into the inner and outer segment plasma membrane.