A remarkable property of the integral glycoprotein dipeptidyl peptidase IV (DPP IV, CD 26) is its affinity to proteins of the extracellular matrix (ECM). By in vitro binding assays we have shown that DPP IV binds to collagens; preferentially to the collagens I and III, which are both characterized by the formation of large triplehelical domains. No binding of DPP IV to laminin or fibronectin could be observed. Within collagen I, the alpha 1(I) chain was found to be the most prominent binding ligand of DPP IV. A monoclonal anti DPP IV antibody (13.4) specifically inhibited the interaction of DPP IV with collagen I. Peptide mapping and N-terminal sequencing revealed that the corresponding epitope of mAb 13.4 is located in the cysteine-rich domain of DPP IV. We therefore conclude that the putative collagen binding site of DPP IV is different from the region of the catalytic site containing the exopeptidase activity, which is located at the C-terminal portion of the molecule.