Calcium-dependent exocytosis at the nerve terminal involves the synaptic core (SNARE) complex composed of the t-SNAREs syntaxin 1 and synaptosome-associated protein of 25 kDa (SNAP-25), and the v-SNARE vesicle-associated membrane protein (VAMP/synaptobrevin), a stable heterotrimer which can associate with the putative calcium sensor protein, synaptotagmin. The distribution of these proteins at the frog neuromuscular junction was examined by immunofluorescent staining and confocal microscopy following exocytosis induced by α-latrotoxin. Experiments were performed under conditions in which synaptic vesicle recycling was either maintained in balance with exocytosis, or completely blocked, or during recovery from block of endocytosis. When endocytosis was maintained, protein distribution was essentially identical to that of unstimulated nerve terminals, in which syntaxin 1 and SNAP-25 are localized to the presynaptic active zones coincident with the postsynaptic folds that contain a high density of acetylcholine receptors (AChRs). Block of endocytosis led to complete incorporation of vesicle proteins into the plasmalemma, and t-SNARE distribution was no longer restricted to active zones. Five minutes after the onset of recovery, both synaptic vesicle proteins and t-SNARE proteins were concentrated into small spots, in a similar pattern to that obtained following endocytosis of the vital styryl dye FM1-43. These findings are consistent with a model in which following sustained exocytosis, t-SNARE trafficking involves internalization and transit via a vesicular compartment before recycling to the presynaptic plasma membrane.