We have conducted experiments to examine the dynamic exchange between subunit and polymer of vimentin intermediate filaments (IF) at steady state through the use of xrhodamine-labeled vimentin in fluorescence recovery after photobleaching (FRAP) analysis. The xrhodamine-vimentin incorporated into the endogenous vimentin IF network after microinjection into fibroblasts and could be visualized with a cooled charge-coupled device (CCD) camera and digital imaging fluorescence microscopy. Bar shaped regions were bleached in the fluorescent IF network using a beam from an argon ion laser and the cells were monitored at various times after bleaching to assess recovery of fluorescence in the bleached zones. We determined that bleached vimentin fibers can recover their fluorescence over relatively short time periods. Vimentin fibers in living cells also can exhibit significant movements, but the recovery of fluorescence was not dependent upon movement of fibers. Fluorescence recovery within individual fibers did not exhibit any marked polarity and was most consistent with a steady state exchange of vimentin subunits along the lengths of IF.