A 1.9-kb cDNA clone to chick lumican (keratan sulfate proteoglycan) was isolated by screening an expressing vector library made from chick corneal RNA with antiserum to chick corneal lumican. The cDNA clone contained an open reading frame coding for a 343-amino acid protein, Mr = 38,640. Structural features of the deduced sequence include: a 18-amino acid signal peptide, cysteine residues at the N- and C-terminal regions, and a central leucine-rich region (comprising 62% of the protein) containing nine repeats of the sequence LXXLXLXXNXL/I, where X represents any amino acid. Lumican contains three variations of this sequence that are tandemly linked to form a unit and three units tandemly linked to form the leucine-rich region. The sequential arrangement of these repeats and their spacing suggest that this region arose by duplication. The deduced sequence shows five potential N-linked glycosylation sites, four of which are in the leucine-rich region. These sites are also potential keratan sulfate attachment sites. The cDNA clone to lumican hybridizes to a 2.0-kb mRNA found in tissues other than cornea, predominantly muscle and intestine. Radiolabeling and immunoprecipitation studies show that lumican core protein is also synthesized by these tissues. The primary structure of lumican is similar to fibromodulin, decorin, and biglycan, which indicates it belongs to the small interstitial proteoglycan gene family. The expression of lumican in tissues other than cornea indicates a broader role for lumican besides contributing to corneal transparency.