The cleavage site of human insulin-like growth factor binding protein-3 by urinary prostate specific antigen was examined. Human insulin-like growth factor binding protein-3 was incubated with urinary prostate specific antigen at 37 degrees C and its proteolyzed fragments were separated by a reversed phase HPLC followed by N-terminal amino acid sequence analysis, demonstrating that the cleavage mainly occurred at Tyr-159. The synthetic peptide including Tyr-159 was also cleaved at the same site, although its reaction rate was relatively low. These results indicate that human insulin-like growth factor binding protein-3 is specifically cleaved at Tyr-159 by prostate specific antigen. Human insulin-like growth factor binding protein-3 was previously reported to be cleaved at five sites including Arg-97, Arg-132, Tyr-159, Phe-173 and Arg-179 by another group, however, prostate specific antigen preparation is possibly contaminated by trypsin-like protease. In contrast, our purified urinary prostate specific antigen had only a chymotrypsin-like activity, demonstrating that prostate specific antigen has the high substrate specificity for human insulin-like growth factor binding protein-3.