Variations for non-histones in the ADP-ribosylating activities of interphase and metaphase cells were investigated. 32P-Labeled nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide ([32P]NAD), the specific precursor for the modification, was used to radioactively label proteins. Permeabilized interphase and mitotic cells, as well as isolated nuclei and chromosomes, were incubated with the label. One-dimensional and two-dimensional gels of the proteins of total nuclei and chromatin labeled with [32P]NAD showed more than 100 modified species. Changing the labeling conditions resulted in generally similar patterns of modified proteins, though the overall levels of incorporation and the distributions of label among species were significantly affected. A less complex pattern was found for nuclear scaffolds. The major ADP-ribosylated proteins included the lamins and poly(ADP-ribose) polymerase. Inhibitors of ADP-ribosylation were effective in preventing the incorporation of label by most non-histones. Snake venom phosphodiesterase readily removed protein-bound 32P radioactivity. A fundamentally different distribution of label from that of interphase nuclei and chromatin was found for metaphase chromosome non-histones. Instead of 100 or more species, the only major acceptor of label was poly(ADP-ribose) polymerase. This profound change during mitosis may indicate a structural role for ADP-ribosylation of non-histone proteins.