The MDR-1 gene product, plasma membrane glycoprotein or P-glycoprotein (PGP), has been shown to confer drug resistance to cancer cells by acting as an energy-dependent drug-efflux pump. We have examined the endocytic traffic of PGP in human multidrug-resistant cells and tested whether the traffic and the steady-state intracellular localization of PGP can be experimentally modulated. Here we show that 1) under steady state ~70% of cellular PGP is on the surface whereas ~30% is intracellular, 2) surface PGP undergoes constitutive endocytosis and recycling, 3) endocytosis of PGP involves clathrin and adaptin complex 2-dependent mechanism, and 4) PGP cycles through a Rab5-responsive endosomal compartment. Biochemical (such as antibody crosslinking of PGP or treatment of cells with chloroquine) and molecular (such as overexpression of Rab5) treatments were used to modulate the endocytic/recycling traffic of PGP. Such treatments resulted in the redistribution of PGP from the cell surface to intracellular compartments. Cells with such 'mislocalized' PGP showed a decrease in multidrug resistance, suggesting that clinically relevant strategies can be attempted by modulating PGP's temporal and spatial distribution within cancer cells.