Morphological studies have established that peripheral heterochromatin is closely associated with the nuclear envelope. The tight coupling of the two structures has been attributed to nuclear lamins and lamin-associated proteins; however, it remains to be determined which of these elements are essential and which play an auxiliary role in nuclear envelope-chromatin interactions. To address this question, we have used as a model system in vitro reconstituted vesicles assembled from octyl glucoside-solubilized nuclear envelopes. Comparing the chromosome binding properties of normal, immunodepleted and chemically extracted vesicles, we have arrived at the conclusion that the principal chromatin anchorage site at the nuclear envelope is the lamin B receptor (LBR), a ubiquitous integral protein of the inner nuclear membrane. Consistent with this interpretation, purified LBR binds directly to chromatin fragments and decorates the surface of chromosomes in a distinctive banding pattern.