Bee venom phospholipase A2 and the fluorescent probe merocyanine 540 were used to examine plasma membrane phospholipid organization in the spicules released by deoxygenation and reoxygenation of sickle red cells, as well as in reversibly and irreversibly sickled erythrocytes. Digestion of phosphatidyl ethanolamine in spicules was comparable to that of phosphatidyl choline, and these structures were stained by the fluorescent probe. Both assays suggest that membrane lipid asymmetry is disrupted in spicules. The residual cells, from which the spicules were derived, retain the normal asymmetry in phospholipid distribution between the outer and inner leaflets of the plasma membrane bilayer. Comparable experiments with cell fractions enriched in irreversibly sickled cells revealed a partial enhancement of phosphatidyl ethanolamine digestion, confirming the similar experiments of Lubin et al (1981). Staining of these cells with merocyanine 540, however, did not reveal a subfraction of stainable cells, indicating that this increase in phosphatidyl ethanolamine digestion is not due to the presence of a small fraction of cells which have completely lost their membrane asymmetry.