Angiotensin-converting enzyme [ACE (peptidyl-dipeptidase A, EC 18.104.22.168)] was purified from a total cell membrane fraction of rat intestinal mucosa. A 4,500-fold purification was achieved after affinity chromatography with lisinopril-Sepharose and gel filtration. The final preparation was judged to be homogenous by sodium dodecyl sulfate-polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis with an apparent molecular weight of 160,000. The purified protein is a glycoenzyme containing 12% N-linked carbohydrate. Purified ACE had a specific activity of 65 U/mg protein with benzoyl-Gly-His-Leu as substrate. A kinetic analysis showed that the enzyme had the maximal velocity with substrates containing proline at the COOH-terminal end. Inhibitor studies indicated that the enzyme is a metalloprotein. Along the proximal-distal axis of the small intestine, ACE activity is most predominant in the proximal to middle portions, decreasing toward the distal end. This pattern was also observed for ACE mRNA and protein, suggesting that ACE expression is controlled at the level of mRNA. Perfusion of benzoyl-Gly-His-Leu in vivo through a segment of intestinal jejunum demonstrated that ACE is an important intestinal dipeptidyl carboxypeptidase, participating in the digestion and assimilation of dietary peptides.