Proteins which are inserted and anchored in the membrane of the ER by an uncleaved signal-anchor sequence can assume two final orientations. Type I signal-anchor proteins translocate the NH2 terminus across the membrane while type II signal-anchor proteins translocate the COOH terminus. We investigated the requirements for cytosolic protein components and nucleotides for the membrane targeting and insertion of single-spanning type I signal-anchor proteins. Besides the ribosome, signal recognition particle (SRP), GTP, and rough microsomes (RMs) no other components were found to be required. The GTP analogue GMPPNP could substitute for GTP in supporting the membrane insertion of IMC-CAT. By using a photocrosslinking assay we show that for secreted, type I and type II signal-anchor proteins the presence of both GTP and RMs is required for the release of the nascent chain from the 54-kD subunit of SRP. For two of the proteins studied the release of the nascent chain from SRP54 was accompanied by a new interaction with components of the ER. We conclude that the GTP-dependent release of the nascent chain from SRP54 occurs in an identical manner for each of the proteins studied.