Microsomal membranes isolated from rat gastric fundus smooth muscle by differential centrifugation aggregate substantially in the presence of the divalent metal ion Mg2+ or Ca2+. The magnitude of cation-induced membrane aggregation is higher for Ca2+ than for Mg2+, but the ion concentration required for half-maximum membrane aggregation (K0.5 value) is similar for Mg2+ and Ca2+. Cation-induced membrane aggregation is suppressed by high ionic strength and low pH of the medium. Cation-induced membrane aggregation of mitochondrial membrane and plasma membrane enriched fractions differ in the rate of aggregate formation, metal ion concentration dependence, and pH dependence. Such different properties of membrane aggregation were used to prepare a plasma membrane enriched fraction by conventional differential centrifugation. Subfractionation of the heterogenous microsomal membranes by free-flow electrophoresis indicated that smooth muscle plasma membranes showed a higher electrophoretic mobility than the intracellular membranes. These results suggest that ionic interactions on the cell membrane surfaces differ from those on the intracellular membrane surfaces and that induction of membrane aggregation by Ca2+ or Mg2+ is a useful procedure for an effective and rapid preparation of plasma membrane enriched fraction from smooth muscle.