[14C]Lactose, electroinjected into the cytosol of isolated rat hepatocytes, was sequestered by autophagy, transferred to lysosomes and eventually hydrolysed. Asparagine prevented the fusion between prelysosomal autophagic vacuoles and lysosomes, and caused lactose to accumulate in the former. However, if the hepatocytes were simultaneously allowed to endocytose added beta-galactosidase, no lactose accumulation occurred. These results suggest that autophagically sequestered lactose and endocytosed beta-galactosidase were delivered to the same prelysosomal vacuole, where the lactose was hydrolysed by the enzyme. The name amphisome is suggested for this new functional compartment, common to the autophagic and endocytic pathways.