Inside-out follicles prepared from pig thyroid glands were used for studies on endocytosis. endocytosis. In this in vitro system, only the apical plasma membranes of follicle cells were exposed to tracers added to the culture medium. Cationized ferritin (CF) bound to the apical plasma membrane and was transferred first to endosomes and to lysosomes (within 5 min). Later, after approximately 30 min, CF was also found in stacked Golgi cisternae. In addition, a small fraction of endocytic vesicles carrying CF particles became inserted into the lateral (at approximately 11 min) and the basal (at approximately 16 min) plasma membranes. Morphometric evaluation of CF adhering to the basolateral cell surfaces showed that the vesicular transport across thyroid follicle cells (transcytosis) was temperature-sensitive; it ceased at 15 degrees C but increased about ninefold in follicles stimulated with thyrotropin (TSH). Thyroglobulin-gold conjugates and [3H]thyroglobulin (synthesized in separate follicle preparations in the presence of [3H]leucine) were absorbed to the apical plasma membrane and detected mainly in lysosomes. A small fraction was also transported to the basolateral cell surfaces where the thyroglobulin preparations detached and accumulated in the newly formed central cavity. As in the case of CF, transcytosis of thyroglobulin depended on the stimulation of follicles with TSH. The observations showed that a transepithelial vesicular transport operates in thyroid follicle cells. This transport is regulated by TSH and includes the transfer of thyroglobulin from the apical to the basolateral plasma membranes. Transcytosis of thyroglobulin could explain the occurrence of intact thyroglobulin in the circulation of man and several mammalian species.