Rhodamine-labeled actin microinjected into living embryonic chicken gizzard cells became associated with its characteristic cytoskeletal structures. In these domains the translational diffusion coefficients (D) of rh-actin were determined in vivo by fluorescence photobleaching recovery (FPR) measurements. Two classes of actin molecules with respect to its mobilities were detected: rh-actin with a half-time of recovery of 5-10 min in stress fibers and focal contacts (immobile on the time-scale of FPR measurements) and rh-actin with D = 2-3 X 10(-9) cm2/sec in the cytoplasm and leading lamellae. The slow recovery on stress fibers exhibited similar kinetics whether a short segment or the entire structure were photobleached, indicating that recovery occurs predominantly by exchange with the surrounding diffusable actin. We propose that a steady-state equilibrium between the soluble and cytoskeletal pool of actin exists in living cells.