Various models for the analysis of time-dependent fluorescence anisotropy measurements were evaluated. The discussion was based on the analysis of pulsed experiments with 1,6-diphenyl-1,3,5-hexatriene embedded in small unilamellar vesicles of dimyristoylphosphatidylcholine or dipalmitoylphosphatidylcholine and in dimyristoylphosphatidylcholine/alpha-lactalbumin complexes. It was shown that a recently proposed model (Van der Meer, W., H. Pottel, W. Herreman, M. Ameloot, H. Hendrickx, H. Schröder, 1984, Biophys. J., 46:515-523) described the data better than did the earlier suggested cone model (Kinosita K., Jr., S. Kawato, and A. Ikegami, 1977, Biophys. J., 20:289-305). This permitted the use of the new model for the estimation of the second- and fourth-rank order parameters on nonoriented systems. The results indicated that a fraction of the probes was oriented perpendicularly to the preferred direction of the lipids. An increase of the rotational correlation times of the fluorescent probe and a higher order of its environment were detected after the interaction of alpha-lactalbumin with the dimyristoylphosphatidylcholine vesicles at acidic pH at 24.2 degrees C.