Studies using lysosomal membrane vesicles have suggested that efflux of the sulfate that results from lysosomal glycosaminoglycan degradation is carrier-mediated. In this study, glycosaminoglycan degradation and sulfate efflux were examined using cultured skin fibroblasts and lysosomes deficient in the lysosomal enzyme N-acetylgalactosamine-4-sulfatase. Such fibroblasts store dermatan sulfate lysosomally, which could be labelled biosynthetically with Na2(35)SO4. The addition of recombinant N-acetylgalactosamine-4-sulfatase to the media of 35S labelled fibroblasts degraded up to 82% of the stored dermatan [35S] sulfate over a subsequent 96 h chase and released inorganic [35S] sulfate into the medium. In the presence of 4-acetamido-4'-isothiocyanatostilbene-2,2'-disulfonic acid (SITS), sulfate was reused to a minor extent in newly synthesized proteoglycan. Isolated granules from recombinant enzyme supplemented fibroblasts degraded stored dermatan [35S]sulfate to sulfate which was rapidly released into the medium at a rate that was reduced by the extra-lysosomal presence of the lysosomal sulfate transport inhibitors SITS, Na2SO4 and Na2MoO4. SITS also inhibited dermatan sulfate turnover, although it had no effect on the action of purified recombinant enzyme in vitro. These data imply that sulfate clearance occurred concomitantly with dermatan sulfate turnover in the lysosome even at high substrate loading, and that lysosome-derived sulfate, while available, is reutilized minimally in synthetic pathways.