A lysosomal pepstatin-insensitive proteinase (CLN2p) deficiency is the underlying defect in the classical late-infantile neuronal ceroid lipofuscinosis (LINCL, CLN2). The natural substrates for CLN2p and the causative factors for the neurodegeneration in this disorder are still not understood. We have now purified the CLN2p from bovine brain to apparent homogeneity. The proteinase has a molecular mass of 46 kDa and an aminoterminal sequence, L-H-L-G-V-T-P-S-V-I-R-K, that is identical to the human enzyme. Peptide: N-glycosidase F and endoglycosidase H treatment of the CLN2p reduced its molecular mass to 39.5 and 40.5 kDa, respectively, suggesting the presence of as many as five N-glycosylated residues. The CLN2p activity was not affected by common protease inhibitors, and thiol reagents, metal chelators, and divalent metal ions had no significant effect on the proteolytic activity of the CLN2p. Among the naturally occurring neuropeptides, angiotensin II, substance P, and beta-amyloid were substrates for the CLN2p, whereas angiotensin I, Leu-enkephalin, and gamma-endorphin were not. Peptide cleavage sites indicated that the CLN2p is a tripeptidyl peptidase that cleaves peptides having free amino-termini. Synthetic amino- and carboxyl-terminal peptides from the subunit c sequence, which is the major storage material in LINCL, are hydrolyzed by the CLN2p, suggesting that the subunit c may be one of the natural substrates for this proteinase and its accumulation in LINCL is the direct result of the proteinase deficiency.