The neuronal cell surface consists of two domains, the somatodendritic and axonal plasma membranes. Each domain serves different functions, and has a different complement of membrane molecules. Since membrane molecules are able to diffuse in the plane of the plasma membrane lipid bilayer, with diffusion coefficients ranging from 10-8 cm 2 s-1 for lipids to 10-10 cm 2 s-1 for proteins, mechanisms must exist to prevent as intermixing of membrane molecules from each domain by diffusion. Presented here is a theoretical analysis of the distribution of axonal molecules in both growing and non-growing axons based on two models for the insertion of these molecules into the axonal membrane, namely insertion exclusively at the distal end of the axon, or insertion with equal probability all along the axon. In all cases, assuming that the molecules have a finite half-life in the axonal membrane, compositional differences between the axonal and somatodendritic membranes can be obtained that are similar to those observed in other polarized cells, even in the absence of a physical barrier to prevent the intermixing of membrane molecules. Moreover, our analyses demonstrate that the diffusion of membrane molecules in the plane of the axonal lipid bilayer is a sufficiently slow process to preclude the possibility that membrane molecules are inserted into axonal membranes at a site remote from their final location, and then move to their final locations for diffusion. Thus, in long axons, for membrane molecules that are localized all along the length of the axon, mechanisms must exist for their insertion in the axonal membrane at sites all along the axon, and not just at the distal end.