We induced Giardia lamblia trophozoites to encyst in vitro by exposure to conditions which are specific to the human small intestinal milieu. We now show that encystation entails the appearance of two new groups of antigens detected in Western blots by rabbit antiserum against cysts which had been purified from human feces. A heterodisperse group of lower-molecular-mass antigens (approximately 21 to 39 kilodaltons) was expressed relatively early (less than 19 h) in encystation. In contrast, discrete bands at approximately 66, 78, 92, and 103 kilodaltons only appeared after 24 h of incubation under conditions which lead to production of large numbers of water-resistant cysts. We also describe for the first time the appearance of prominent cytoplasmic vesicles, which were the earliest morphologic change in encysting trophozoites observable by light microscopy. Early in encystation, cyst wall antigens were concentrated in these vesicles, as shown by immunocytochemistry, suggesting that the vesicles function in export of cyst wall constituents.