Proteoglycans fill the intercellular space between keratinocytes but their structure and function are not well understood. We have identified and partially characterized one intercellular proteoglycan on human keratinocytes, for which we propose the name epican (epidermal intercellular proteoglycan). Monoclonal antibodies (MoAb) were generated from a mixture of keratinocyte proteoglycans. One, designated MoAb17, identified the core protein of an intercellular proteoglycan that had an apparent mobility of greater than 250 kDa on Western blots. The core protein itself had an apparent mobility of 180 kDa following deglycosylation with trifluoromethanesulfonic acid. Enzymatic deglycosylation revealed that most core protein molecules were substituted with heparan sulfate but that some carried chondroitin sulfate instead. Smaller forms of the core protein were more abundant in tissue-culture medium than in cell extracts. This proteoglycan was localized by immunofluorescence to the intercellular space of the epidermis and the surface of keratinocytes in vitro, particularly at cell-cell contacts. MoAb17 did not react with protoglycans extracted from other skin cells, nor did it bind to basement membranes or connective tissue. Comparison of Western immunoblots using MoAb17 and antibodies to core proteins of other proteoglycans suggested that epican is not related to syndecan but is a member of the CD44 family.