AAT Bioquest

What are the differences between cell membrane and cytoplasm?

Posted January 18, 2023


Basis of differentiation

Cell membrane



The cell membrane is defined as the double-layered phospholipids membrane which separates the interior of the cell from the external environment

The cytoplasm is defined as the jelly-like semifluid that enclosed by the cell membrane 


Helps protect the cell and gives it its firm shape

Cytoplasm holds the cell organelles and acts as a reaction 

Separation from external environment

Cell membrane separates cells from one another and from the external environment

Cytoplasm doesn’t separate  cells from one another and from the external environment 

Stored and released energy

Energy is not stored or released in the cell membrane

Energy is stored and released in the cytoplasm 


The cell membrane is not part of the protoplasm

The cytoplasm (as well as the nucleus) is part of the protoplasm

Movement of substances

The cell membrane has small pores that control the movement of different substances across the membrane

The cytoplasm is not responsible for the movement of various molecules across the cell membrane 

Cell adhesion and ion conductivity

The cell membrane is the primary site that is involved in cell adhesion and ion conductivity

The cytoplasm is not involved in cell adhesion and ion conductivity 

Additional resources

Organization of Mammalian Cytoplasm

Cell Structures and Organelles

Plasma Membrane

iFluor® 488-Wheat Germ Agglutinin (WGA) Conjugate