The C-terminal domain V of the basement membrane proteoglycan perlecan was previously shown to play a major role in extracellular matrix and cell interactions. A homologous sequence of 708 amino-acid residues from Drosophila has now been shown to be 33% identical to mouse perlecan domain V. It consists of three laminin G-type (LG) and epidermal growth factor-like (EG) modules but lacks the EG3 module and a link region found in mammalian perlecans. Recombinant production of Drosophila perlecan domain V in mammalian cells yielded a 100-kDa protein which was folded into a linear array of three globular LG domains. Unlike the mouse counterpart, domain V from Drosophila was not modified by glycosaminoglycans and endogenous proteolysis, due to the absence of the link region. It showed moderate affinities for heparin and sulfatides but did not bind to chick alpha-dystroglycan or to various mammalian basement membrane proteins. A single RGD sequence in LG3 of Drosophila domain V was also incapable of mediating cell adhesion. Production of a proteoglycan form of perlecan (approximately 450 kDa) in one Drosophila cell line could be demonstrated by immunoblotting with antibodies against Drosophila domain V. A strong expression was also found by in situ hybridization and immunohistology at various stages of embryonic development and expression was localized to several basement membrane zones. This indicates, as for mammalian species, a distinct role of perlecan during Drosophila development.