The cDNA sequence and the deduced amino acid sequence of the Mr 34,000 C-terminal fragment of Xenopus laevis complement component C3 are presented. The sequence of Xenopus C3 has 57% nucleotide identity to the corresponding sequence of human C3 and approximately 49% amino acid identity to C3 from human, mouse, and rabbit. The Xenopus C3 sequence shows clusters of high and of low similarity to the mammalian C3 sequences. One of these regions of high similarity represents the domain of mammalian C3b involved in the binding of properdin, a regulator of the alternative pathway of complement activation. It is not clear whether the other highly conserved regions are involved in binding to other C3 ligands. The Xenopus C3 sequence completely lacks the Arg-Gly-Asp sequence, which has been suggested to be the recognition site of the human complement receptor type 3 on the iC3b fragment of human C3. The Xenopus C3 gene is shown not to be linked to the Xenopus major histocompatibility complex, as is also the case in mammals. Since the gene of the related molecule C4 is MHC-linked in both mammals and Xenopus, the C3 and C4 genes may have separated before Xenopus and mammals speciated.