While much is known about the role of nuclear pore complexes (NPCs) in nucleocytoplasmic transport, the mechanism of NPC assembly into pores formed through the double lipid bilayer of the nuclear envelope is not well defined. To investigate the dynamics of NPCs, we developed a live-cell assay in the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae. The nucleoporin Nup49p was fused to the green fluorescent protein (GFP) of Aequorea victoria and expressed in nup49 null haploid yeast cells. When the GFP-Nup49p donor cell was mated with a recipient cell harboring only unlabeled Nup49p, the nuclei fused as a consequence of the normal mating process. By monitoring the distribution of the GFP-Nup49p, we could assess whether NPCs were able to move from the donor section of the nuclear envelope to that of the recipient nucleus. We observed that fluorescent NPCs moved and encircled the entire nucleus within 25 min after fusion. When assays were done in mutant kar1-1 strains, where nuclear fusion does not occur, GFP-Nup49p appearance in the recipient nucleus occurred at a very slow rate, presumably due to new NPC biogenesis or to exchange of GFP-Nup49p into existing recipient NPCs. Interestingly, in a number of existing mutant strains, NPCs are clustered together at permissive growth temperatures. This has been explained with two different hypotheses: by movement of NPCs through the double nuclear membranes with subsequent clustering at a central location; or, alternatively, by assembly of all NPCs at a central location (such as the spindle pole body) with NPCs in mutant cells unable to move away from this point. Using the GFP-Nup49p system with a mutant in the NPC-associated factor Gle2p that exhibits formation of NPC clusters only at 37 degrees C, it was possible to distinguish between these two models for NPC dynamics. GFP-Nup49p-labeled NPCs, assembled at 23 degrees C, moved into clusters when the cells were shifted to growth at 37 degrees C. These results indicate that NPCs can move through the double nuclear membranes and, moreover, can do so to form NPC clusters in mutant strains. Such clusters may result by releasing NPCs from a nuclear tether, or by disappearance of a protein that normally prevents pore aggregation. This system represents a novel approach for identifying regulators of NPC assembly and movement in the future.