To characterize a previously proposed hepatocyte albumin receptor, we examined the binding of native and defatted 125I-labeled rat albumin to rat liver plasma membranes. After incubation for 30 min, binding was determined from the distribution of radioactivity between membrane pellet and supernatant following initial centrifugation (15000 X g for 15 min), and after repeated cycles of washing with buffer and re-centrifugation. 125I-labeled albumin recovered in the initial membrane pellet averaged only 4% of that incubated. Moreover, this albumin was only loosely associated with the membrane, as indicated by recovery in the pellet of under 0.5% of the counts after three washes. Binding of 125I-labeled albumin to the plasma membranes was no greater than to erythrocyte ghosts, was not inhibited by excess unlabeled albumin, and was not decreased by heat denaturation of the membranes, all suggestive of a lack of specific binding. Failure to observe albumin binding to the membranes was not due to a rapid dissociation rate or 'off-time', as incubations in the presence of sufficient ultraviolet light to promote covalent binding of ligands to receptors did not increase 125I counts bound to the membrane. Finally, affinity chromatography over albumin/agarose gel of solubilized membrane proteins provided no evidence of a membrane protein with a high affinity for albumin. These studies, therefore, do not support the hypothesis that liver cell plasma membranes contain a specific albumin receptor.