A system was developed for the analysis of protein transport to the nucleus. Carrier proteins cross-linked to synthetic peptides were microinjected into the cytoplasm of mammalian cells, and protein transport was evaluated by immunofluorescence staining of fixed cells. A 13-mer synthetic peptide containing seven amino acids homologous to SV40 T antigen was capable of inducing nuclear transport, but no transport was observed when proteins were coupled with a synthetic peptide homologous to a nuclear-transport-defective T antigen. The largest protein-peptide conjugate efficiently transported was ferritin (Mr 465,000). The rate of transport was influenced by the number of peptides per molecule of carrier protein and, to some degree, by the size of the carrier protein. Transport of some conjugates was almost complete in 15 min at room temperature.