Surfactant protein B (SP-B) is synthesized by type II pneumocytes as a proprotein (proSP-B) that is proteolytically processed to an 8-kD protein. In human type II pneumocytes, we identified not only proSP-B, processing intermediates of proSP-B, and mature SP-B, but also fragments of the N-terminal propeptide. By means of immunoelectron microscopy, proSP-B and processing intermediates were localized in the endoplasmic reticulum, Golgi vesicles, and few multivesicular bodies in type II pneumocytes in human lungs. A colocalization of fragments of the N-terminal propeptide and mature SP-B was found in multivesicular, composite, and some lamellar bodies. Mature SP-B was localized over the projection core of lamellar bodies and core-like structures in tubular myelin figures. In line with immunoelectron microscopy and Western blot analysis of human type II pneumocytes, a fragment of the N-terminal propeptide was also detected in isolated rat lamellar bodies. In conclusion, our data indicate that the processing of proSP-B occurs between the Golgi complex and multivesicular bodies and provide evidence that a fragment of the N-terminal propeptide and mature SP-B are transported together to the lamellar bodies. In human lungs, mature SP-B is involved in the structural organization of lamellar bodies and tubular myelin by the formation of core particles.