We have purified two major polypeptides of 54 and 56 kd from bovine erythrocytes that specifically bind the nuclear location sequence (NLS) of the SV40 large T antigen. When added to a permeabilized cell system for nuclear import, the purified proteins increase by 2- to 3-fold the nuclear accumulation of a fluorescent protein containing the large T antigen NLS. The import stimulation is saturable and dependent upon the presence of cytosol. Nuclear protein accumulation in vitro is sensitive to inactivation by N-ethylmaleimide (NEM). NEM inactivation can be overcome by addition of the purified NLS-binding proteins to the import system. NEM treatment of the purified proteins abolishes their ability to stimulate import but does not affect NLS binding. Our results indicate that the NLS-binding proteins are NEM-sensitive receptors for nuclear import. At least one other NEM-sensitive cytosolic activity and an NEM-insensitive cytosolic activity are also necessary for protein import in vitro.