Numerous membrane-bounded vacuoles are found adjacent to the plasma membrane of the pathogenic protozoan Giardia lamblia. The function of these vacuoles has been discussed by several authors. Approximately 100-400 nm in diameter with a core of low electron density, they have been suggested to be mitochondria, mucocysts, lysosomes, and endocytotic vacuoles. Enzyme cytochemical localization for acid phosphatase activity using cerium as a capturing agent demonstrates reaction product in these vacuoles as well as in the endoplasmic reticulum and nuclear envelope cisternae. The distribution of reaction product suggests the vacuoles are lysosome-like; however, their function and development remain in question.