UDP-N-acetylglucosamine:alpha-6-d-mannoside beta-1,6-N-acetylglucosaminyltransferase V (GlcNAc-TV) is a regulator of polylactosamine-containing N-glycans and is causally involved in T cell regulation and tumor metastasis. The Caenorhabditis elegans genome contains a single orthologous gene, gly-2, that is transcribed and encodes a 669-residue type II membrane protein that is 36.7% identical to mammalian GlcNAc-TV (Mgat-5). Recombinant GLY-2 possessed GlcNAc-TV activity when assayed in vitro, and protein truncations demonstrated that the N-terminal boundary of the catalytic domain is Ile-138. gly-2 complemented the Phaseolus vulgaris leucoagglutinin binding defect of Chinese hamster ovary Lec4 cells, whereas GLY-2(L116R), an equivalent mutation to that which causes the Lec4A phenotype, could not. We conclude that the worm gene is functionally interchangeable with the mammalian form. GlcNAc-TV activity was detected in wild-type animals but not those homozygous for a deletion allele of gly-2. Activity was restored in mutant animals by an extrachromosomal array that encompassed the gly-2 gene. Green fluorescent protein reporter transgenes driven by the gly-2 promoter were expressed by developing embryos from the late comma stage onward, present in a complex subset of neurons in larvae and, in addition, the spermathecal and pharyngeal-intestinal valves and certain vulval cells of adults. However, no overt phenotypes were observed in animals homozygous for deletion alleles of gly-2.