Mammals express genes coding for proteins that show significant similarity to chitinases of family 18 glycosyl hydrolases. These chitinase-like proteins have no chitinase activity due to changes in critical residues in the putative active center. One of these is oviductin, a high molecular weight glycoprotein most likely involved in fertilization and protection of the tubal epithelium owing to its mucin character. Another is YKL-40 (HCgp39) produced in association with tissue remodeling. Such proteins could have a general function in morphogenesis.