Erythrocytes (approximately equal to 50% reticulocytes) obtained from a splenectomized patient with a thermolabile variant of glucosephosphate isomerase (GPI) deficiency showed a striking degree of crenation and decreased filterability through 3-micrometer Nuclepore filters (Nuclepore Corp., Pleasanton, Calif.). Membranes prepared by hypotonic lysis of such erythrocytes were found to contain a high molecular weight aggregate which was probably disulphide-bonded. The 10% most dense erythrocyte fraction showed an accentuation of aggregate formation while aggregates could not be detected in the 10% least dense erythrocyte fraction. The aggregate consisted mainly of spectrin (band 1) and a protein with the mobility of 4.2. "Extractability" of spectrin from these membranes was also markedly diminished. Incubation of the erythrocytes for 24 h in substrate-free medium caused more pronounced spectrin aggregation than in low or high reticulocyte controls. Incubation of low or high reticulocyte controls for 24 h in medium that contained glucose completely prevented the formation of the high molecular weight aggregate. GPI-deficient erythrocytes incubated with glucose in the medium showed an accentuation of membrane protein aggregate formation; however, this was almost completely reversed by the addition of adenine and inosine to the incubation medium or by the use of fructose, the intermediate just distal to the "block" in glycolysis, as the sole substrate. ATP and reduced glutathione levels in the GPI-deficient erythrocytes incubated with glucose were similar to that found in the low and high reticulocyte controls. Our findings suggest that only a proportion of erythrocytes (the older, more dense population of cells) are susceptible to the formation of disulphide-bonded aggregates, and that this is directly related to an impairment of substrate flow through the glycolytic sequence. The exact mechanism of aggregate formation in these erythrocytes remains to be elucidated.