Rat liver was homogenized and subjected to differential centrifugation. When the low speed nuclear pellet was processed on a Percoll gradient, plasma membrane markers and Ins(1,4,5)P3 binding activity purified together. The high speed (microsomal) fraction was subfractionated by sucrose density gradient centrifugation, resulting in 10-fold enrichment of [32P]-Ins(1,4,5)P3 binding. In the sucrose density gradient fractions there was an inverse relationship between the enrichment of plasma membrane markers and Ins(1,4,5)P3 binding sites. Endoplasmic reticulum markers showed a moderate enrichment in the fractions displaying high Ins(1,4,5)P3 binding activity. Calcium binding proteins in the homogenate and in the microsomal subfractions were separated by SDS/PAGE. A 60 kD protein, stained metachromatically with Stains-All was identified as calreticulin with immunoblotting. Its enrichment pattern was similar to that of Ins(1,4,5)P3 binding sites, indicating the co-existence of these two elements of Ca(2+)-metabolism in the same intracellular compartment in the liver.