A three-chained peptide from type I collagen, crosslinked by hydroxyaldolhistidine, has been isolated from a tryptic digest of 5 M guanidine.HCl-insoluble bovine skin collagen (a small but as yet unknown percentage of the total collagen in whole skin). OsO(4)/NaIO(4) specifically cleaved the crosslink at its double bond into a two-chained crosslink peptide and a single peptide. The sequence of the two-chained peptide containing the bifunctional crosslink was determined after amino acid analysis of the separated peptides. The crosslink consists of an aldehyde derived from hydroxylysine-87 in the aldehyde-containing cyanogen bromide fragment alpha1CB5(ald) and an aldehyde derived from the lysine in the COOH-terminal nonhelical region of the alpha1CB6(ald) fragment. The alpha1CB6(ald) portion of the peptide exhibited structural microheterogeneity, containing the inverted sequence Ala-Lys-His instead of the normal sequence Lys-Ala-His. This indicates that another structural gene exists for alpha1(I) chain. The original three-chained peptide did not contain any glycosylated hydroxylysine or glycosylated hydroxyaldolhistidine. The lack of glycosylation of hydroxylysine-87 in alpha1CB5, which is usually glycosylated, allowed formation of the aldehyde, and this, coupled with the sequence inversion, may have allowed formation of the nonreducible crosslink hydroxyaldolhistidine. We suggest that the role of glycosylation, a posttranslational modification, of specific hydroxylysine residues is to prevent their oxidative deamination to aldehydes, thereby precluding formation of complex stable crosslinks. Complex crosslinks would decrease the rate of collagen turnover. The decrease, with time, would increase the population of stable crosslinked collagen molecules, which would eventually accumulate with age.