Treatment of chicken erythrocytes with ionophore A23187 and Ca2+ leads to the disappearance of the marginal band of microtubules and to a release of the constraints which normally maintain the nucleus in a central position in the cells. The consequent close apposition of the nucleus to the plasma membrane may allow nuclear-plasma membrane fusion to occur and subsequently results in the release of microvesicles from the hybrid surface membrane. The remnant cells are spherical, and have nuclei which appear to be partly exocytosed. Concomitant with these morphological changes, there is a breakdown of 20–30% of the total cell sphingomyelin by an endogenous sphingomyelinase which does not require Ca2+ and which releases phosphorylcholine only into the cell interior. It is suggested that the pool of sphingomyelin which is broken down as a consequence of Ca2+ entry into the cells is present in the nuclear membrane and that it becomes available to the plasma membrane sphingomyelinase as a result of the close apposition of nucleus and plasma membrane induced by Ca2+.