Yeast mutants that are conditionally blocked at distinctive steps in secretion and export of cell surface proteins have been used to monitor assembly of integral plasma membrane proteins. Mutants blocked in transport from the endoplasmic reticulum (sec18), from the Golgi body (sec7 and sec14), and in transport of secretory vesicles (sec1) show dramatically reduced assembly of galactose and arginine permease activities. Simultaneous induction of galactose permease and alpha-galactosidase (a secreted glycoprotein) in sec mutant cells at the nonpermissive temperature (37 degrees C) shows that both activities accumulate and can be exported coordinately when cells are returned to the permissive temperature (24 degrees C) in the presence or absence of cycloheximide. Plasma membrane fractions isolated from sec mutant cells radiolabeled at 37 degrees C have been analyzed by two-dimensional sodium dodecyl sulfate-gel electrophoresis. Although most of the major protein species seen in plasma membranes from wild-type cells are not efficiently localized in sec18 or sec7, several of these proteins appear in plasma membranes from sec1 cells. These results may be explained by contamination of plasma membrane fractions with precursor vesicles that accumulate in sec1 cells. Alternatively, some proteins may branch off during transport along the secretory pathway and be inserted into the plasma membrane by a different mechanism.