We have isolated and sequenced overlapping cDNA clones encoding the entire core protein of aggrecan (the large aggregating chondroitin sulfate/keratan sulfate proteoglycan of cartilage) from three chondrocyte cDNA libraries of BALB/c mice and localized the aggrecan gene in mouse chromosome 7. We determined 7386 bp of the cDNA sequence, including 132 and 854 nucleotides of 5' and 3' untranslated regions, respectively. The core protein precursor is 2132 amino acids long (M(r) 222,008), including a 19-residue secretory signal peptide. The overall amino acid sequence of the mouse aggrecan shows 91.6% identity to rat and 72.5% to human aggrecan. Comparison of the amino acid sequences of various domains and subdomain structures of mouse aggrecan to known sequences of other species and related proteins (versican, neurocan, link protein, and lymphocyte homing receptor CD44) revealed high levels of identity of the G1, G2, and G3 globular domains and relatively less conserved structures in the interglobular and glycosaminoglycan-attachment regions. Epidermal growth factor (EGF)-like module was detected in only a minor fraction of aggrecan clones, while the complement regulatory protein (CRP)-like domain was regularly expressed in all samples.