The specific complexes of human α-lactalbumin (α-LA) with oleic acid (OA), HAMLET and LA-OA-17 (OA-complexes), possess cytotoxic activity against tumor cells but the mechanism of their cell penetration remains unclear. To explore the molecular mechanisms underlying interaction of the OA-complexes with the cell membrane, their interactions with small unilamellar dipalmitoylphos-phatidylcholine (DPPC) vesicles and electroexcitable plasma membrane of internodal native and perfused cells of the green alga Chara corallina have been studied. The fractionation (Sephadex G-200) of mixtures of the OA-complexes with the vesicles shows that OA-binding increases the affinity of α-LA to DPPC vesicles. Calcium association decreases protein affinity to the vesicles; the effect being less pronounced for LA-OA-17. The voltage clamp technique studies show that LA-OA-17, HAMLET, and their constituents produce different modifying effects on the plasmalemmal ionic channels of the Chara corallina cells. The irreversible binding of OA-complexes to the plasmalemma is accompanied by changes in the activation-inactivation kinetics of developing integral transmembrane currents, suppression of the Ca2+ current and Ca2+-activated Cl− current, and by increase in the nonspecific K+ leakage currents. The latter reflects development of nonselective permeability of the plasma membrane. The HAMLET-induced effects on the plasmalemmal currents are less pronounced and potentiated by LA-OA-17. The control experiments with OA and intact α-LA show their qualitatively different and much less pronounced effects on the transmembrane ionic currents. Thus, the modification of α-LA by OA results in an increase in the protein association with the model lipid bilayer and in drastic irreversible changes in permeability of several types of the plasmalemmal ionic channels.