Scintillons, the bioluminescence organelles of Gonyaulax polyedra, were purified by isopycnic density gradient centrifugation until only low levels of contaminating chloroplasts and mitochondria were detected by fluorescence and electron microscopy. Purified scintillons catalyzed the luminescent reaction with kinetics identical to those observed during the bioluminescence flash in vivo. Polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis in the presence of sodium dodecyl sulfate indicated that the organelles appeared to contain only two proteins. These proteins were identified as luciferase (135 kilodaltons) and luciferin-binding protein (75 kilodaltons) based on their size and their known functions in the bioluminescence reaction in vitro. The staining of luciferin-binding protein by Coomassie blue was 2.4 +/- 0.3 (n = 19) times greater than the luciferase, suggesting that there are four binding protein monomers for every luciferase monomer. A model is proposed for the close packing of the two proteins inside the scintillons.