Juxtanuclear birefringent caps (FC) containing 10-nm filaments form during the early stages of baby hamster kidney (BHK-21) cell spreading. FC are isolated from spreading cells after replating by treatment with 0.6 M KCl, 1% Triton X-100 (Rohm & Haas Co., Philadelphia, Pa.) and DNase I in phosphate-buffered saline. Purified FC are birefringent and retain the pattern of distribution of 10-nm filaments that is seen in situ. Up to 90% of the FC protein is resolved as two polypeptides of approximately 54,000 and 55,000 molecular weight on sodium dodecyl sulfate (SDS) polyacrylamide gels. The protein is immunologically and biochemically distinct from tubulin as determined by indirect immunofluorescence, double immunodiffusion, one-dimensional peptide mapping by limited proteolysis in SDS gels, and amino acid analysis. The BHK-21 FC amino acid composition, however, is very similar to that obtained for 10-nm filament protein derived from other sources including brain and smooth muscle. Partial disassembly of 10-nm filaments has been achieved by treatment of FC with 6 mM sodium-potassium phosphate buffer, pH 7.4. The solubilized components assemble into distinct 10-nm filaments upon the addition of 0.171 M sodium chloride.