Lamellar bodies are specialized cellular organelles used for storage of surfactant by alveolar type II cells of the lung. We utilized monoclonal antibody (MAb) 3C9, which recognizes an integral lamellar body-limiting membrane protein of 180 kDa, to follow lamellar body trafficking. (125)I-labeled MAb 3C9 bound to the surface of type II cells and was internalized by the cells in a time- and concentration-dependent manner that was inhibitable by excess unlabeled antibody. The internalized antibody remained undegraded over a 4-h time period. The L2 rat lung cell line that does not have lamellar bodies did not bind iodinated 3C9. Exposure of type II cells to the secretagogues ATP, phorbol 12-myristate 13-acetate, and cAMP resulted in a 1.5- to 2-fold enhancement of binding and uptake of MAb 3C9. Calphostin C inhibited phorbol 12-myristate 13-acetate-stimulated phospholipid secretion and also reduced binding and uptake of MAb 3C9 by type II cells. Treatment of type II cells with phenylarsine oxide to obstruct clathrin-mediated endocytosis had no effect on the internalization of MAb 3C9 while markedly blocking the uptake of surfactant protein A and transferrin. An actin-mediated process was important for lamellar body membrane uptake because incubation with cytochalasin D partially inhibited MAb 3C9 incorporation by type II cells. These studies are compatible with enhanced lamellar body membrane turnover associated with surfactant secretion and indicate that this process can be monitored by the trafficking of the antigen reporter MAb 3C9.