Transport of [3H]tetraethylammonium, an organic cation, has been studied in brush-border and basolateral membrane vesicles isolated from rat kidney cortex. Some characteristics of carrier-mediated transport for tetraethylammonium were demonstrated in brush-border and basolateral membrane vesicles; the uptake was saturable, was stimulated by the countertransport effect, and showed discontinuity in an Arrhenius plot. In brush-border membrane vesicles, the presence of an H+ gradient ( [H+]i greater than [H+]o) induced a marked stimulation of tetraethylammonium uptake against its concentration gradient (overshoot phenomenon), and this concentrative uptake was completely inhibited by HgCl2. In contrast, the uptake of tetraethylammonium by basolateral membrane vesicles was unaffected by an H+ gradient. Tetraethylammonium uptake by basolateral membrane vesicles was significantly stimulated by a valinomycin-induced inside-negative membrane potential, while no effect of membrane potential was observed in brush-border membrane vesicles. These results suggest that tetraethylammonium transport across brush-border membranes is driven by an H+ gradient via an electroneutral H+-tetraethylammonium antiport system, and that tetraethylammonium is transported across basolateral membranes via a carrier-mediated system and this process is stimulated by an inside-negative membrane potential.