To define the heparin-binding site of follistatin, the reduced and S-carboxymethylated recombinant human follistatin containing 288 amino acids was digested by Staphylococcus aureus V8. The digested product was subjected to sulfate cellufine column chromatography and the adsorbed peptide fragments eluted with a stepwise gradient of sodium chloride. The recovered column fractions were further purified by reversed-phase high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) and the HPLC peaks subjected to amino-terminal sequence analysis. All of the sulfate cellufine-retarded peptide fragments gave the same N-terminal amino acid sequence, which started at residue-68 of human follistatin, suggested that those fragments starting from residue-68 contain the heparin binding site. The multiple fragments might represent the oxidized, non-glycosylated or glycosylated forms of follistatin(68-113) resulting from the V8 digestion. A synthetic peptide corresponding to the region having the amino acid sequence 72-86 of follistatin was able to bind both heparin and sulfate cellufine, as well as compete with recombinant follistatin for binding to heparin. These findings further define the location of the heparin and heparan sulfate-binding site of follistatin at the basic amino acid-rich region comprising the amino acid sequence Lys75-Lys-Cys-Arg-Met-Asn-Lys-Lys-Asn-Lys-Pro-Arg86.