Chromaffin granules, the catecholamine storage granules of pheochromocytoma were isolated from five human pheochromocytoma tumors. Vasoactive intestinal polypeptide (VIP) immunoreactivity was detected in all chromaffin granule preparations, paralleling the synthetic VIP antibody binding curve over a range of serial dilutions. In addition, gel filtration revealed an immunoreactive peptide peak coeluting with VIP. However, high molecular weight immunoreactive material was also detected on the column. This high molecular weight material was further characterized by sodium dodecyl sulfate gel electrophoresis, followed by electroblotting onto nitrocellulose paper and detection by anti-VIP antibodies with a secondary antibody conjugated to horseradish peroxidase. A 70 000 dalton immunoreactive band was identified, in which reactivity with anti-VIP antibody was inhibited by VIP; this band did not cross react with non-related antibodies. This 70 000 dalton protein may be an intermediate molecule in the biosynthesis and processing of VIP.