Intermediate filaments (IF) were found in close proximity to the plasma membrane in substrate attached baby hamster kidney cells (BHK-21) and chick embryo fibroblasts (CEF) as well as cells removed from their substrate in the absence of trypsin. However, in cells removed with trypsin, it appeared that IF had retracted away from the membrane. In cells with abundant extracellular matrix (ECM), colchicine induced massive cables of IF, which appeared to interact with specialized areas of the inner plasma membrane. In cells lysed to extract most microfilaments and cytoplasmic constituents, the intact IF network which remained was closely associated with the ECM. From these ultrastructural observations it was concluded that IF interact in some way with a "cell membrane complex" defined as comprising the plasma membrane and molecules attached to its inner and outer surfaces. In order to investigate the possibility that components of the membrane complex may co-isolate with IF, native intermediate filaments (NIF) were prepared. In addition to the structural subunits and other associated polypeptides, a approximately 220 kd species which reacted specifically with antibodies directed against the ECM protein fibronectin (FN) was observed; 220 kd was still present after NIF were isolated under pH conditions where FN is more soluble, suggesting that its presence was not simply due to the coprecipitation of two insoluble proteins. Immunofluorescence and immunogold localization confirmed that FN is a component of the cell membrane complex with which IF appeared to interact.