The possibility that certain integral plasma membrane (PM) proteins involved in Ca(2+) homeostasis form junctional units with adjacent endoplasmic reticulum (ER) in neurons and glia was explored using immunoprecipitation (IP) and immunocytochemistry. Rat brain membranes were solubilized with the mild, non-ionic detergent, IGEPAL CA-630. Na(+)/Ca(2+) exchanger type 1 (NCX1), a key PM Ca(2+) transporter, was immunoprecipitated from the detergent-soluble fraction. Several abundant PM proteins co-immunoprecipitated with NCX1, including the alpha2 and alpha3 isoforms of the Na(+) pump catalytic (alpha) subunit, and the alpha2 subunit of the dihydropyridine receptor. The adaptor protein, ankyrin 2 (Ank 2), and the cytoskeletal proteins, alpha-fodrin and beta-spectrin also selectively co-immunoprecipitated with NCX1, as did the ER proteins, Ca(2+) pump type 2 (SERCA 2), and inositol-trisphosphate receptor type 1 (IP(3)R-1). In contrast, a number of other abundant PM, adaptor and cytoskeletal proteins did not co-IP with NCX1, including the Na(+) pump alpha1 isoform, PM Ca(2+) pump type 1 (PMCA1), beta-fodrin, and Ank 3. In reciprocal experiments, IP with antibodies to the Na(+) pump alpha2 and alpha3 isoforms, but not alpha1, co-immunoprecipitated NCX1; the antibodies to alpha1 did, however, co-IP PMCA1. Antibodies to Ank 2, alpha-fodrin, beta-spectrin and IP(3)R-1 all co-immunoprecipitated NCX1. Immunocytochemistry revealed partial co-localization of beta-spectrin with NCX1, Na(+) pump alpha3 and IP(3)R-1 in neurons, and of alpha-fodrin with NCX1 and SERCA2 in astrocytes. The data support the idea that, in neurons and glia, PM microdomains containing NCX1 and Na(+) pumps with alpha2 or alpha3 subunits form Ca(2+) signaling complexes with underlying ER containing SERCA2 and IP(3)R-1. These PM and ER components appear to be linked through the cytoskeletal spectrin network, to which they are probably tethered by Ank 2.