The leukocyte differentiation antigen CD26 identified as dipeptidyl peptidase IV.(EC 18.104.22.168), cleaves off N-terminal dipeptides from peptides when a proline or alanine is located at the penultimate position. Seminal plasma and especially prostasomes, prostate-derived organelles which occur freely in seminal plasma, contain high amounts of CD26/dipeptidyl peptidase IV and therefore are suitable sources for the purification of the protein. The use of adenosine deaminase (EC 22.214.171.124) affinity chromatography for its purification is described. CD26/dipeptidyl peptidase IV was purified from human seminal plasma and prostasomes by a two step procedure. Ion exchange chromatography on DEAE-Sepharose, followed by affinity chromatography on adenosine deaminase-Sepharose resulted in the pure, native protein with an overall yield ranging from 35 to 55%. The N-terminal sequence of the amphiphilic enzyme purified from human prostasomes was determined to be Met-Lys-Thr-Pro-Trp-Lys-Val-Leu. The preparation obtained was free of contaminating aminopeptidase activity and proved to be very stable (up to 1 month at 37 degrees C). The calf intestinal adenosine deaminase we used is commercially available and can be employed for the purification of human, bovine and rabbit CD26/dipeptidyl peptidase IV. High affinity binding of porcine dipeptidyl peptidase IV was not observed. The availability of a source with high specific activity and the introduction of adenosine deaminase affinity chromatography permits the rapid purification of milligram quantities of natural mammalian CD26/dipeptidyl peptidase IV.