Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy has been used to monitor lipid-protein interaction and protein secondary structure in native and reconstituted sarcoplasmic reticulum vesicles. Studies of the temperature dependence of the CH2 symmetric stretching frequency reveal no cooperative phase transitions in purified sarcoplasmic reticulum or in vesicles reconstituted with dioleoylphosphatidylcholine, although a continuous introduction of disorder into the lipid acyl chains is observed as the temperature is raised. In addition, temperature-dependent changes are observed in the Amide I and Amide II vibrations arising from protein peptide bonds. A comparison of lipid order in native sarcoplasmic reticulum and its lipid extract showed that the introduction of protein is accompanied by a slight increase in lipid order. Reconstitution of Ca2+-ATPase from sarcoplasmic reticulum with dipalmitoylphosphatidylcholine (lipid/protein ratio 30:1), reveals a perturbed lipid melting event broadened and reduced in midpoint temperature from multilamellar lipid vesicles. The onset of melting (27-28°C) correlates well with the onset of ATPase activity and confirms a suggestion (Hesketh, T.R., Smith G.A., Houslay M.D., McGill, K.A., Birdsall, N.J.M., Metcalfe, J.C. and Warren, G.B. (1976) Biochemistry 15, 4145-4151) that a liquid crystalline environment is a requirement for optimal protein function. Finally, Ca2+-ATPase has been reconstituted into binary lipid mixtures of DOPC and acyl-chain perdeuterated DPPC. The effect of protein on the structure and melting behavior of each lipid component was monitored. The protein appears to preferentially interact with the DOPC component. © 1984.