We have established by peptide mapping and immunochemical analysis of purified clathrin assembly protein preparations from bovine brain, that the cluster of components of mol. wt 100-120 kd fall into four classes, which we term alpha, beta, beta' and gamma. The beta and beta' proteins are immunologically related and generate a series of common tryptic peptides. The same criteria reveal no such homologies between the alpha, beta(beta') and gamma polypeptides. The so-called HA-II assembly protein group contains equimolar amounts of alpha and beta class polypeptides, which are shown to interact with each other. In the HA-I group assembly protein complex gamma and beta' class polypeptides form a stoichiometric complex. Immunofluorescence microscopy reveals that the HA-I complex is specifically associated with clathrin-coated membranes in the Golgi region of cultured cells, whereas the HA-II complex appears to be restricted to coated pits on the plasma membrane. The data lead to the tentative conclusion that the clathrin assembly proteins are involved in the recognition of the intracellular targets by uncoated vesicles.