Protein C is one of a family of vitamin K dependent proteins, including blood coagulation factors and bone proteins, that contains gamma-carboxyglutamic acid. Sequence analysis of the cDNAs for these proteins has revealed the presence of a prepro leader sequence that contains a pre sequence or hydrophobic signal sequence and a propeptide containing a number of highly conserved amino acids. The pre region is removed from the growing polypeptide chain by signal peptidase, while the pro region is subsequently removed from the protein prior to secretion. In the present study, deletion mutants have been constructed in the propeptide region of the cDNA for human protein C, and the cDNAs were then expressed in mammalian cell culture. These deletions included the removal of 4, 9, 12, 15, 16, or 17 amino acids comprising the carboxyl end of the leader sequence of 42 amino acids. The mutant proteins were then examined by Western blotting, barium citrate adsorption and precipitation, amino acid sequence analysis, and biological activity and compared with the native protein present in normal plasma. These experiments have shown that protein C is readily synthesized in mammalian cell cultures, processed, and secreted as a two-chain molecule with biological activity. Furthermore, the pre portion or signal sequence in human protein C is 18 amino acids in length, and the pro portion of the leader sequence is 24 amino acids in length. Also, during biosynthesis and secretion, the amino-terminal region of the propeptide (residues from about -12 through -17) is important for gamma-carboxylation of protein C, while the present data and those of others indicate that the carboxyl-terminal portion of the propeptide (residues -1 through -4) is important for the removal of the pro leader sequence by proteolytic processing.