The common core 1 O-glycan structure Galbeta1--> 3GalNAc-R is the precursor for many extended mucin-type O-glycan structures in animal cell surface and secreted glycoproteins. Core 1 is synthesized by the transfer of Gal from UDP-Gal to GalNAcalpha1-R by core 1 beta3-galactosyltransferase (core 1 beta3-Gal-T). Amino acid sequences from purified rat core 1 beta3-Gal-T (Ju, T., Cummings, R. D., and Canfield, W. M. (2002) J. Biol. Chem. 277, 169-177) were used to identify the core 1 beta3-Gal-T sequences in the human expressed sequence tag data bases. A 1794-bp human core 1 beta3-Gal-T cDNA sequence was determined by sequencing the expressed sequence tag and performing 5'-rapid amplification of cDNA ends. The core 1 beta3-Gal-T predicts a 363-amino acid type II transmembrane protein. Expression of both the full-length and epitope-tagged soluble forms of the putative enzyme in human 293T cells generated core 1 beta3-Gal-T activity that transferred galactose from UDP-Gal to GalNAcalpha1-O-phenyl, and a synthetic glycopeptide with Thr-linked GalNAc and the product was shown to have the core 1 structure. Northern analysis demonstrated widespread expression of core 1 beta3-Gal-T in tissues with a predominance in kidney, heart, placenta, and liver. Highly homologous cDNAs were identified and cloned from rat, mouse, Drosophila melanogaster, and Caenorhabditis elegans, suggesting that the enzyme is widely distributed in metazoans. The core 1 beta3-Gal-T sequence has minimal homology with conserved sequences found in previously described beta3-galactosyltransferases, suggesting this enzyme is only distantly related to the known beta3-galactosyltransferase family.