We have isolated and characterized an antigen from normal human brain called p80, so called because it migrated with an M(r) of 80 kDa on SDS PAGE. The M(r) of 80 kDa consists of a protein of about 55-60 kDa and carbohydrate (20-25 kDa). The carbohydrate is almost entirely of the N-linked type, although a small amount of O-linked carbohydrate was detected. Cross-reactivity with monoclonal antibodies A3D8 and A1G3 showed that p80 could therefore be considered an isoform of the CD44 adhesion molecules. In addition, specific binding to hyaluronate which was not competed for by proteoglycan demonstrated that it involved different sites than the proteoglycan binding sites. We also observed that fucoidan and dextran sulphate increased the binding by 200-250% while chondroitin sulphate C also increased the binding but to a lesser extent. Heparin, heparan sulphate and chondroitin sulphates A and B did not have such an effect. The binding of p80 to hyaluronate was pH dependent with a maximum at pH 6.4. We concluded that p80 was an astrocyte specific adhesion molecule.