We have used spin labels and electron paramagnetic resonance (EPR) to study the correlation between the rotational dynamics of protein and lipid in sarcoplasmic reticulum (SR) membranes. A short-chain maleimide spin label was used to monitor the submillisecond rotational mobility of the Ca-ATPase enzyme (using saturation transfer EPR); a free fatty acid spin label was used to monitor the submicrosecond rotational mobility of the bulk lipid hydrocarbon chains (using conventional EPR); and a fatty acid spin label derivative (long-chain maleimide) attached to the enzyme was used to monitor the mobility of hydrocarbon chains adjacent to the protein (i.e., boundary lipid). In the native SR membranes, the protein was highly mobile (effective correlation time 50 microseconds). The spectra of the hydrocarbon probes both contained at least two components. For the unattached probe, the major component indicated nearly as much mobility as in the absence of protein (effective rotational correlation time 3 ns), while a minor component, corresponding to 25–30% of the total signal, indicated strong immobilization (effective correlation time greater than or equal to 10 ns). For the attached hydrocarbon probe, the major component (approximately 70% of the total) was strongly immobilized, and the mobile component was less mobile than that of the unattached probe. When the lipid-to-protein ratio was reduced 55% by treatment with deoxycholate, protein mobility decreased considerably, suggesting protein aggregation. A concomitant increase was observed in the fraction of immobilized spin labels for both the free and attached hydrocarbon probes. The observed hydrocarbon immobilization probably arises in part from immobilization at the protein-lipid boundary, but protein-protein interactions that trap hydrocarbon chains may also contribute. When protein aggregation was induced by glutaraldehyde crosslinking, submillisecond protein mobility was eliminated, but there was no effect on either hydrocarbon probe. Thus protein aggregation does not necessarily cause hydrocarbon chain immobilization.