From Auricularia auricula-judae, a water soluble beta-D-glucan, named as AAG, was isolated by extraction with 70% ethanol/water solution. Its chemical structure was analyzed by gas chromatography (GC), gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS), matrix-assisted laser desorption /ionization (MALDI)-time of flight (TOF), and 1D, 2D NMR. AAG was detected, for the first time, to be composed of a main chain of (1-->4)-linked D-glucopyranosyl with glucopyranosyl side groups at O6. With the help of MALDI-TOF-MS, the sequence and the distribution of glucuronic acid were determined and the content of glucuronic acid is about 19%. Five fractions were prepared from the AAG sample in water by ultrasonic degradation method. Their molecular weight, size, and shape (chain conformation) were studied by dynamics light scattering (DLS), static laser light scattering (LLS), size exclusion chromatography combined LLS (SEC-LLS) and viscometry in 0.1M NaCl aqueous solution at 25 degrees C. The dependence of intrinsic viscosity ([eta]) on Mw for this polysaccharide was established to be [eta] = 1.22 x10(-3)Mw (1.00) (cm3 g(-1)) in the range of Mw from 3.40 x 10(4) to 2.88 x 10(5). The conformational parameters of the AAG polysaccharide were found to be 820 nm(-1) for molar mass per unit contour length (ML), 12.3 nm for persistence length (q) and 2.1 for rho (s2(1/2)/Rh). The results suggested that the polysaccharide exists as extended chains in 0.1M NaCl aqueous solution. The chemical structure of AAG containing glucuronic acid and side groups led to steric hindrance, resulting in the increased stiffness of the chains.