Arginine methylation in RNA-binding proteins containing arginine- and glycine-rich RGG motifs is catalyzed by specific protein arginine N-methyltransferase in cells. We previously showed that lymphoblastoid cells grown in the presence of an indirect methyltransferase inhibitor, adenosine dialdehyde (AdOx), accumulated high level of hypomethylated protein substrates for the endogenous protein methyltransferases or recombinant yeast arginine methyltransferase [Li, C. et al. (1998) Arch. Biochem. Biophys. 351, 53-59]. In this study we fractionated the lymphoblastoid cells to locate the methyltransferases and the substrates in cells. Different sets of hypomethylated methyl-accepting polypeptides with wide range of molecular masses were present in cytosolic, ribosomal, and nucleus fractions. The methylated amino acid residues of the methyl-accepting proteins in these fractions were determined. In all three fractions, dimethylarginine was the most abundant methylated amino acid. The protein-arginine methyltransferase activities in the three fractions were analyzed using recombinant fibrillarin (a nucleolar RGG protein) as the methyl-accepting substrate. Fibrillarin methylation was strongest in the presence of the cytosolic fraction, followed by the ribosomal and then the nucleus fractions. The results demonstrated that protein-arginine methyltransferases as well as their methyl-accepting substrates were widely distributed in different subcellular fractions of lymphoblastoid cells.