We have examined the Raman scattering due to CH stretching vibrations, as well as to v(-C=C-) and v(=C-C=) of beta-carotene, of liposomes composed of phosphatidylcholine (egg, dimyristoyl, dipalmitoyl) +/- cholesterol, beta-carotene or melittin in the temperature range of -10 degrees C to 45 degrees C. (2) Plots vs. temperature of the intensities of the 2885 cm-1 and 2930 cm-1 CH stretching bands relative to the intensity of the thermally stable 2850 cm-1 band, i.e. the I2885/I2850 and I2930/I2850 ratios, reveal a sharp discontinuity in cholesterol-free phosphatidylcholine liposomes; this coincides with the gel leads to liquid-crystal transition temperature of the fatty acyl chains. In cholesterol/phosphatudylcholine liposomes the change in I2885/I2850 occurs over a very broad temperature range and I2930/I2850 remains stable. (3) I1527/I1158, i.e. the intensity of v(-C=C-) relative to that of v(=C-C-) in beta-carotene/phosphatidylcholine liposomes, changes discontinuously at the gel leads to liquid-crystal transition temperature. The values above the transition temperature approach those of the carotenoid in organic solution. (4) The transitions reported in I2885/I2850 for phosphatidylcholine/melittin liposomes (25-56; 1, M/M) are shifted to much higher temperatures than observed in phosphatidylcholine liposomes. In the case of dimyristoyl phosphatidylcholine/melittin the changes in I2930/I2850 also occurs at a higher temperature (28 degrees C) than without melittin (21 degrees C), but the temperature shift is less than the +13 degrees C observed for I2885/I2850. It appears that the apolar moiety of melittin organizes phospholipids adjacent to and more remote from the peptide moiety, to form complexes with an elevated lipid transition temperature. The effect of the peptide moiety is greater on the methylene segments (I2885/I2850) than on the methyl termini (I2930/I2850).