A major 40-KDA protein secreted by human prostate was isolated from whole seminal plasma by sequential column chromatography on DEAE-Sepharose CL-6B, concanavalin A(Con A)-Sepharose, and Sephadex G-100. Although the purified preparation still contained minor contaminants, its amino acid composition was found to be identical to the one of a glycoprotein isolated previously from seminal plasma by Lin et al (1983). Antibodies against this protein were produced in rabbits and their use in immunoblotting experiments revealed the presence of the antigen in several tissues including the prostate, the liver, the heart, the kidney, the epididymis, and the testis. A radioimmunoassay confirmed these results and showed that blood serum concentrations of this protein were relatively high in men (81 +/- 3 micrograms/ml), women (68 +/- 3 micrograms/ml), and cord blood of newborns (32 +/- 1 micrograms/ml). The serum concentrations of this protein along with its physicochemical characteristics suggested that it could be identical to Zn-alpha 2-glycoprotein, a human serum protein previously isolated by Burgi and Schmid (1961). This hypothesis was confirmed by a double immunodiffusion analysis using a commercial anti-Zn-alpha 2-glycoprotein antiserum. Finally, in vitro translation of prostatic poly(A) + RNA in rabbit reticulocyte lysate in the presence of canine pancreatic microsomal membranes resulted in the formation of an immunoprecipitable 42-kDa band. These results show that Zn-alpha 2-glycoprotein can be synthesized in the prostate itself. The demonstration of high concentrations of this protein in prostatic tissue and prostatic secretion should facilitate the elucidation of its role in the prostate and in other tissues.