Chlamydiae replicate intracellularly within a vacuole that has recently been characterized as intersecting an exocytic pathway. One of the initial events during chlamydial infection is the expression of a chlamydial early gene product(s) that effectively isolates the inclusion from the endocytic-lysosomal pathway and makes it fusogenic with sphingomyelin-containing exocytic vesicles. Associated with this change in vesicular interaction is the delivery of the vacuole to the peri-Golgi region of the host cell. Inhibition of chlamydial early transcription or translation causes Chlamydia trachomatis-containing vesicles to remain dispersed throughout the cytoplasm, where they eventually fuse with lysosomes. Chlamydiae that have been internalized by Fc-mediated endocytosis also avoid lysosomal digestion by a mechanism that requires chlamydial protein synthesis. These results suggest that the vesicular interactions of the chlamydial inclusion are defined by parasite-directed modification of the endocytic vesicle rather than by the route of internalization.