Analysis of sulfur-35-labeled proteoglycans indicated that cholesterol-enriched pigeon peritoneal macrophages synthesized 42% more 35S-labeled proteoglycan when compared with control macrophages during a 24-hour incubation. Proteoglycan turnover was subsequently studied in radiolabeled macrophage cultures after a 1-, 3-, 6-, 12-, or 24-hour chase with fresh media. During the chase, intracellular proteoglycan disappeared rapidly, whereas there was a small accumulation of 35S-labeled proteoglycan in the media that plateaued at about 6 hours and remained relatively constant thereafter. Pericellular heparan sulfate proteoglycan and chondroitin sulfate proteoglycan disappeared throughout the chase and did not appear to accumulate in the media or in the intracellular compartment. The rapid disappearance of intracellular proteoglycans along with the relative lack in metabolism of media proteoglycans indicated that the majority of pericellular proteoglycans were metabolized via an intracellular degradative pathway. Kinetic analysis of pericellular proteoglycans revealed the presence of a single pool of heparan sulfate proteoglycan (half-life [t1/2] = 6.9 hours) and a single pool of chondroitin sulfate proteoglycan (t1/2 = 11.5 hours) in control macrophage cultures. Cholesterol-enriched macrophage cultures also contained a single pool of pericellular heparan sulfate proteoglycan (t1/2 = 7.3 hours) but contained two pools of chondroitin sulfate proteoglycan (t1/2 = 0.8 hour and 25.9 hours).