An experimental approach is described that enables the analysis of interactions between exogenous surface ligands and components of the cytoplasm in neutrophil leukocytes. Neutrophils treated with the nonionic detergent Lubrol PX, under controlled conditions, yield intact detergent-insoluble ghosts. Morphological analysis of neutrophil ghosts shows that they retain the original dimensions of the cell and consist almost entirely of a peripheral filamentous network, representing the submembranous cortical web, concentric to nuclear remnants. All intracellular membrane-bounded organelles, plasma membrane, and background cytoplasmic electron density are absent. Biochemical analysis of the ghosts shows that less than 10% of enzyme markers for the soluble and granule fractions remain, and that greater than 90% of total cell phospholipid is removed during detergent extraction. The major proteins remaining in the ghosts comigrate, on polyacrylamide gels in the presence of SDS, with chicken gizzard actin, myosin, filamin, and a 110-kdalton protein. Patches and caps induced on neutrophils with either fluorescein isothiocyanate-concanavalin A or ferritin-concanavalin A retain their original location and morphology on ghosts after lysis, as determined by both fluorescence and electron microscopy. In similar experiments, but using 125I-labeled lectins, 37% of total cell bound concanavalin A (Con A) and 25% succinylated Con A remain attached to the ghosts. A major 125I-labeled membrane glycoprotein (80 kdaltons) is associated with ghosts prepared from intact neutrophils iodinated in the presence of exogenous lactoperoxidase. Further 125I-labeled membrane glycoproteins (217, 170, and 147 kdaltons) become associated with ghosts prepared from iodinated cells treated before lysis with Con A, but not with succinylated Con A. These data taken together suggest that linkages exist in neutrophils between proteins exposed on the outer surface of the plasma membrane and the peripheral filamentous network independent of the presence of lipid bilayer. The implications of these findings for surface motile phenomena will be discussed.