Using the glycoprotein of the tsO45 mutant of vesicular stomatitis virus (VSV-G) as a marker, we have developed a system capable of measuring vesicular transport from the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) to the trans Golgi network (TGN) in vitro. Movement from the ER to the cis Golgi compartment was assessed by the conversion of VSV-G from a totally endoglycosidase D (endo D)-resistant form to a species containing one endo D-resistant and one endo D-sensitive oligosaccharide (GD1). Similarly, delivery to the medial cisternae was measured by the appearance of the completely endo D-sensitive form of VSV-G (GD2) or by the acquisition of complete resistance to endoglycosidase H (endo H) (GHr) and delivery to the TGN by the appearance of an endo H-resistant form of VSV-G which was sensitive to digestion with neuraminidase and subsequently beta-galactosidase (GHt). Movement between each sequential compartment required ATP and soluble proteins (cytosol) and was inhibited by nonhydrolyzable analogues of GTP and by an antibody toward the N-ethylmaleimide-sensitive factor NSF. In contrast, fractionation of the cytosol by ammonium sulfate precipitation indicated that distinct proteins were required for movement between successive compartments. Similarly, inclusion of a mutant form of the small molecular weight GTP-binding protein rab1A inhibited movement between the ER and cis Golgi, and between the cis and medial cisternae, but did not affect transport from the medial Golgi to the TGN. Conversely, the protein kinase inhibitor staurosporine prevented movement between the medial Golgi and the TGN but did not influence transport between the ER and early Golgi compartments. This study provides the first demonstration that vesicular transport between the ER and TGN can be reconstituted in a cytosol-dependent fashion in vitro, allowing a direct analysis of the roles of individual components in multiple transport events.