A family of ankyrin-binding glycoproteins have been identified in adult rat brain that include alternatively spliced products of the same pre-mRNA. A composite sequence of ankyrin-binding glycoprotein (ABGP) shares 72% amino acid sequence identity with chicken neurofascin, a membrane-spanning neural cell adhesion molecule in the Ig super-family expressed in embryonic brain. ABGP polypeptides and ankyrin associate as pure proteins in a 1:1 molar stoichiometry at a site located in the predicted cytoplasmic domain. ABGP polypeptides are expressed late in postnatal development to approximately the same levels as ankyrin, and comprise a significant fraction of brain membrane proteins. Immunofluorescence studies have shown that ABGP polypeptides are co-localized with ankyrinB. Major differences in developmental expression have been reported for neurofascin in embryos compared with the late postnatal expression of ABGP, suggesting that ABGP and neurofascin represent products of gene duplication events that have subsequently evolved in parallel with distinct roles. Predicted cytoplasmic domains of rat ABGP and chicken neurofascin are nearly identical to each other and closely related to a group of nervous system cell adhesion molecules with variable extracellular domains, including L1, Nr-CAM and Ng-CAM of vertebrates, and neuroglian of Drosophila. A hypothesis to be evaluated is that ankyrin-binding activity is shared by all of these proteins.