Nucleoside transport in various types of animal cells is inhibited by the binding of nitrobenzylthioinosine (NBMPR) to a set of high-affinity sites on the plasma membrane. This work examined the binding of [3H]NBMPR to the nucleoside transporters of cultured Nil 8 hamster fibroblasts and of cells of a virus-transformed clone (Nil SV) derived from Nil 8. Experiments conducted with intact Nil 8 and Nil SV cells and with membrane preparations indicated that the two lines differed significantly in the cellular content of binding sites and only slightly in the affinities of these sites for NBMPR. Nil 8 and Nil SV cells possessed (4.2-8.0) x 105 and (2.0-4.0) x 106 sites per cell respectively, whereas the dissociation constants of site-bound NBMPR obtained with intact cells and with membrane preparations were similar, ranging from 0.29 to 1.5 nM. Dilazep, a potent inhibitor of nucleotide transport that is structurally unrelated to NBMPR, appeared to compete with NBMPR for binding to the high-affinity sites when tested under equilibrium conditions with K(i) values for inhibition of NBMPR binding to Nil 8 and Nil SV cells respectively of 15 ± 4 and 32 ± 4 nM. The dissociation of NBMPR from the binding site-NBMPR complex of Nil SV membrane preparations was a first-order decay process with a rate constant of 0.68 ± 0.26 min-1. The rate of dissociation of NBMPR from the binding-site complex of membrane preparations and intact cells was decreased significantly in the presence of dilazep and increased in the presence of the permeant uridine. These results suggest that the apparent competitive-inhibition kinetics obtained for dilazep under equilibrium conditions should not be interpreted as binding of dilazep to the same site as NBMPR but rather as binding of the two inhibitors to closely associated sites on the nucleoside transporter. Similarly, uridine also appears to bind to a site separate from the NBMPR-binding site.