To account for the many functions of phosphatidylinositol 4,5-bisphosphate (PIP(2)), several investigators have proposed that there are separate pools of PIP(2) in the plasma membrane. Recent experiments show the surface concentration of PIP(2) is indeed enhanced in regions where phagocytosis, exocytosis, and cell division occurs. Kinases that produce PIP(2) are also concentrated in these regions. However, how is the PIP(2) produced by these kinases prevented from diffusing rapidly away? First, proteins could act as "fences" around the perimeter of these regions. Second, some factor could markedly decrease the diffusion coefficient, D, of PIP(2) within these regions. We used fluorescence correlation spectroscopy (FCS) and fluorescence recovery after photobleaching (FRAP) to investigate these two possibilities in the forming phagosomes of macrophages injected with fluorescent PIP(2). FCS measurements show that PIP(2) diffuses rapidly (D ~ 1 μm(2)/s) in both the forming phagosomes and unengaged plasma membrane. FRAP measurements show that the fluorescence from PIP(2) does not recover (>100 s) after photobleaching the entire forming phagosome but recovers rapidly (~10 s) in a comparable area of membrane outside the cup. These results (and similar data for a plasma membrane-anchored green fluorescent protein) support the hypothesis that a fence impedes the diffusion of PIP(2) into and out of forming phagosomes.