Previous work has revealed a cytoplasmic pool of flagellar precursor proteins capable of contributing to the assembly of new flagella, but how and where these components assemble is unknown. We tested Chlamydomonas outer- dynein arm subunit stability and assembly in the cytoplasm of wild-type cells and 11 outer dynein arm assembly mutant strains (oda1-oda11) by Western blotting of cytoplasmic extracts, or immunoprecipitates from these extracts, with five outer-row dynein subunit-specific antibodies. Western blots reveal that at least three oda mutants (oda6, oda7, and oda9) alter the level of a subunit that is not the mutant gene product. Immunoprecipitation shows that large preassembled flagellar complexes containing all five tested subunits (three heavy chains and two intermediate chains) exist within wild-type cytoplasm. When the preassembly of these subunits was examined in oda strains, we observed three patterns: complete coassembly (oda 1, 3, 5, 8, and 10), partial coassembly (oda7 and oda11), and no coassembly (oda 2, 6, and 9) of the four tested subunits with HCβ. Our data, together with previous studies, suggest that flagellar outer-dynein arms preassemble into a complete M(r) ≃ 2 x 106 dynein arm that resides in a cytoplasmic precursor pool before transport into the flagellar compartment.