Bothrops protease A (BPA) is a serine peptidase isolated from the venom of Bothrops jararaca. Unlike many venom enzymes, it is stable at pHs between 3 and 9 and resists heating at 86 degrees C for 10 min. Mature snake venom serine peptidases of the chymotrypsin family are in general glycoproteins composed of around 232 amino acids and their molecular masses vary between 25 and 40 kDa. BPA is a glycosylated protein that migrates on SDS-polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis (PAGE) as a single band of 67 kDa. In order to find out whether BPA has the typical serine peptidase primary structure or if it is composed of a longer amino acid sequence, we cloned a cDNA encoding BPA. Its deduced amino acid sequence showed that BPA is composed of 234 residues with a calculated molecular mass of 25,409 Da implying that approximately 62% of its molecular mass assessed by SDS-PAGE is due to carbohydrate moieties. Eight putative N-glycosylation and two putative O-glycosylation sites were found in BPA amino acid sequence. Deglycosylation experiments indicated that all 10 potential glycosylation sites in BPA are utilized. Complete N- and O-deglycosylation was only achieved under denaturing conditions and generated main products of 25 and 55 kDa, respectively, which were enzymatically inactive. N-deglycosylation under non-denaturing conditions was only partial and gave a main product of 50 kDa and fragments ranging from 25 to approximately 10 kDa. Kinetic parameters K(m) and V(max) of partially N-deglycosylated BPA upon substrate Bz-Arg-pNA were similar to the native form. However, when partially N-deglycosylated BPA was submitted to pH 3 and pH 10, it appeared to be unstable as it underwent hydrolysis, as shown by the presence of two main products of 30 and 12 kDa while the 50 kDa protein band disappeared. These changes also had effects on V(max) upon Bz-Arg-pNA which dropped to approximately 45%, while K(m) values remained unchanged. Fluorescence emission spectroscopy indicated that in partially N-deglycosylated BPA, tryptophan residues are more exposed to a polar environment than in the fully glycosylated protein. Taken together, these studies indicate that glycosylation has a stabilizing effect on BPA.