Tripeptides containing the acceptor sequence for Asn-linked glycosylation (Asn-X-Ser/Thr) were added to CHO and HepG2 cells. The tripeptides were glycosylated in the ER and then secreted into the medium, via the Golgi complex in which the oligosaccharide chains were processed. The half-time for secretion, approximately 10 min, was faster than that of known proteins transported through the same pathway. Since much evidence suggests that oligosaccharide chains are not signals for transport, it appears that no signal is necessary for rapid and efficient transport from the ER to the Golgi, or from the Golgi to the cell surface. Rather, it appears that proteins retained as permanent residents en route through the ER-Golgi transport pathway must contain specific retention signals.