Glycosylphosphatidylinositol (GPI) acts as a membrane anchor of many cell surface proteins. Its structure and biosynthetic pathway are generally conserved among eukaryotic organisms, with a number of differences. In particular, mammalian and protozoan mannosyltransferases needed for addition of the first mannose (GPI-MT-I) have different substrate specificities and are targets of species- specific inhibitors of GPI biosynthesis. GPI-MT-I, however, has not been molecularly characterized. Characterization of GPI-MT-I would also help to clarify the topology of GPI biosynthesis. Here, we report a human cell line defective in GPI-MT-I and the gene responsible, PIG-M. PIG-M encodes a new type of mannosyltransferase of 423 amino acids, bearing multiple transmembrane domains. PIG-M has a functionally important DXD motif, a characteristic of many glycosyltransferases, within a domain facing the lumen of the endoplasmic reticulum (ER), indicating that transfer of the first mannose to GPI occurs on the lumenal side of the ER membrane.