F-actin affinity chromatography and immunological techniques are used to identify actin-binding proteins in purified Dictyostelium discoideum plasma membranes. A 17-kD integral glycoprotein (gp17) consistently elutes from F-actin columns as the major actin-binding protein under a variety of experimental conditions. The actin-binding activity of gp17 is identical to that of intact plasma membranes: it resists extraction with 0.1 N NaOH, 1 mM dithiothreitol (DTT); it is sensitive to ionic conditions; it is stable over a wide range of pH; and it is eliminated by proteolysis, denaturation with heat, or treatment with DTT and N- ethylmaleimide. gp17 may be responsible for much of the actin-binding activity of plasma membranes since monovalent antibody fragments (Fab) directed primarily against gp17 inhibit actin-membrane binding by 96% in sedimentation assays. In contrast, Fab directed against cell surface determinants inhibit binding by only 0-10%. The actin-binding site of gp17 appears to be located on the cytoplasmic surface of the membrane since Fab against this protein continue to inhibit 96% of actin- membrane binding even after extensive adsorption against cell surfaces. gp17 is abundant in the plasma membrane, constituting 0.4-1.0% of the total membrane protein. A transmembrane orientation of gp17 is suggested since, in addition to the cytoplasmic localization of the actin-binding site, extracellular determinants of gp17 are identified. gp17 is surface-labeled by sulfo-N-hydroxy-succinimido-biotin, a reagent that cannot penetrate the cell membrane. Also, gp17 is glycosylated since it is specifically bound by the lectin, concanavalin A. We propose that gp17 is a major actin-binding protein that is important for connecting the plasma membrane to the underlying microfilament network. Therefore, we have named this protein "ponticulin" from the Latin word, ponticulus, which means small bridge.