In MDCK cell monolayers the opening and resealing of occluding junctions can be induced by removal and restoration of calcium to the external medium. The overall changes in permeability of the occluding junctions in the monolayer can be monitored by the drop and recovery of the total transepithelial electrical resistance. We have investigated the effects of cytochalasin B (CB) on this process. When CB is added to sealed monolayers there is a gradual drop in the electrical resistance across the monolayer. This drop is accompanied by a slow disorganization of the microfilament pattern of these cells, including a disturbance of a ring of cortical microfilaments that is normally associated with the junctions. Cells in open monolayers treated with CB will not reseal and have an altered filament distribution. These cells do not have a continuous cortical ring. We have used a voltage scanning technique that uses a microelectrode to measure the resistance at selected points along the junction which surrounds a single cell. In untreated, closed monolayers, the junction is heterogeneous with alternating points of high and low conductance. In closed monolayers treated with CB, although there are low conductance points, we have observed an increased frequency of high conductance points that correlates with the change in the overall conductance. The frequency of high conductance points along the junction and the overall conductance both increase with time of exposure to CB. In an effort to understand the molecular basis for the permeability changes induced by EGTA and CB, we have looked for differences in the protein components of the cell membranes of open, closed, and CB-treated MDCK monolayers. This was done by radioiodinating the surface membrane proteins under control and experimental conditions that bring about permeability changes. No significant differences in the labeled protein patterns were found under these conditions. These results suggest that the permeability changes involve only a structural rearrangement of membrane components. In additions we have observed that about 36% of the surface label remains bound to the insoluble cytoskeletons obtained from cells in control and experimental conditions that alter the permeability of the tight junctions. The iodinated proteins attached to the CS include polypeptides with Mr of greater than or equal to 120K daltons as well as peptides with Mr = 56K, 50K, 36K, and 18K daltons.