We have used immunocytochemical techniques and enzyme cytochemistry to examine the distribution of plasma membrane proteins during coiling phagocytosis of Legionella pneumophila and conventional phagocytosis of Escherichia coli. Whereas class I and class II major histocompatibility complex (MHC) molecules are relatively excluded from nascent phagosomes during conventional and coiling phagocytosis, the CR3 complement receptor persists in nascent phagosomes. The staining pattern for alkaline phosphatase activity resembles that of MHC molecules, with a marked exclusion of phosphatase activity from L. pneumophila coils and nascent phagosomes. The staining pattern for 5'-nucleotidase activity, on the other hand, resembles that of CR3 with intense staining in the inner layers of L. pneumophila coils. These results demonstrate that the cell has the ability to exclude selectively certain membrane proteins from the nascent phagosome during phagocytosis, thereby producing a phagosomal membrane markedly different from the plasma membrane from which it is derived.