We have examined the effects of various agonists and antagonists of GTP-binding proteins on receptor-mediated endocytosis in vitro. Stage-specific assays which distinguish coated pit assembly, invagination, and coat vesicle budding have been used to demonstrate requirements for GTP-binding protein(s) in each of these events. Coated pit invagination and coated vesicle budding are both stimulated by addition of GTP and inhibited by GDP beta S. Although coated pit invagination is resistant to GTP gamma S, A1F4-, and mastoparan, late events involved in coated vesicle budding are inhibited by these antagonists of G protein function. Earlier events involved in coated pit assembly are also inhibited by GTP gamma S, A1F4-, and mastoparan. These results demonstrate that multiple GTP-binding proteins, including heterotrimeric G proteins, participate at discrete stages in receptor-mediated endocytosis via clathrin-coated pits.