Ricinus communis agglutinin I (RCA-I), a lectin that binds to D-galactosyl residues, intensely stained capillaries in cryostat sections of canine cerebral cortex when evaluated by the avidin-biotin-peroxidase complex method. Of seven lectins tested, only RCA-I gave strong staining of vessels and capillaries with little staining of other cortical cells. Ultrastructural studies using ferritin-, biotin-, and peroxidase-labeled RCA-I indicated that this lectin was bound to the luminal membrane of the cerebral capillary endothelial cell and that lectin receptors were distributed continuously along this membrane. Plasmalemma invaginations that bound RCA-I were also present in endothelial cells. Primary cultures of cerebral capillary endothelial cells grown on plastic or gelatin-coated glass substrates demonstrated staining of the cell membrane and perinuclear structures which appeared to be the Golgi complex and secondary lysosomes. These staining characteristics were retained when the cells were subcultured and were confirmed by ultrastructural studies. In contrast, light microscopy showed that fibronectin was more widely distributed in the cytoplasm, a finding consistent with its occurrence in the endoplasmic reticulum. This work provides support for the concept that lectins may be useful endothelial cell markers in both intact tissue and cell culture.