Golgi complex beads are 10-nm particles arranged in rings on the smooth surface of rough endoplasmic reticulum (ER) makind the forming face of the Golgi complex (GC). In arthropod cells they stain specifically with bismuth. Their morphology has been studied after treatment with reagents known to interfere with GC function. Inhibitors of oxidative phosphorylation (antimycin A, cyanide, and anoxia), but not an inhibitor of glycolysis (iodoacetate), both cause the bead rings to collapse and the GC saccules to round up, and inhibit transition vesicle (TV) formation. Cycloheximide blocks protein synthesis on ribosomes but does not stop TV formation or disrupt bead rings, even after prolonged treatment (6 h) to allow emptying of the rough ER cisternae. Thus the collapse of bead rings is not attributable to inhibition of protein synthesis, and the ring structure of beads does not require continued protein synthesis and secretion for its maintenance. Valinomycin has effects on the GC similar to those of antimycin A, but A23187, monensin, and lasalocid do not affect bead ring structure or TV formation. These results are consistent with valinomycin's secondarily uncoupling mitochondria, which collapses bead rings and prevents TV formation. Thus inhibitors of oxidative phosphorylation do not influence the beads through cation movement. Because mononsin and lasalocid block secretion at the level of the condensing vacuoles, bead rings are not influenced by blocks in secretion distal to them or by the backup of secretory material. These experiments are consistent with inhibitors of oxidative phosphorylation collapsing bead rings by decreasing intracellular ATP. The concomitant block to TV formation and the collapse of bead rings suggests that integrity of the bead rings is essential for the transport of secretory material from the rough ER to the GC.