1. Phospholipid-rich membranous contaminants are present in free polysomes from rat liver isolated on discontinuous sucrose gradients. 2. Electron-microscopic studies indicate that the membranous contaminants are mainly agranular with very occasional granular membranes. This is confirmed by the study of their sedimentation behaviour and their initial rate of labelling with radioactive glucosamine in vivo. 3. Conventional ribosome-purification methods fail to remove the contaminants, whereas deoxycholate effectively solubilizes the membranous contaminants with little breakdown of polysomes. 4. Amino acid-incorporation studies show that these membranous contaminants may seriously interfere in assessment of the functional capacity of free polysomes in protein biosynthesis in vivo.