A series of molecular biology experiments were carried out to identify the catalytic domain of two human alpha1,3/4-fucosyltransferases (fucosyltransferases (FucTs) III and V), and to identify amino acids that function in acceptor substrate binding. Sixty-one and 75 amino acids could be eliminated from the N terminus of FucTs III and V, respectively, without a significant loss of enzyme activity. In contrast, the truncation of one or more amino acids from the C terminus of FucT V resulted in a dramatic or total loss of enzyme activity. Results from the truncation experiments demonstrate that FucT III62-361 (containing amino acids 62-361) and FucT V76-374 (containing amino acids 76-374) are active, whereas shorter forms of the enzymes were inactive. The shortest, active forms of the enzymes are more than 93% identical at the predicted amino acid level, but have distinct acceptor substrate specificities. Thus, FucT III is an alpha1,4-fucosyltransferase, whereas FucT V is an alpha1,3-fucosyltransferase with disaccharide substrates. All but one of the amino acid sequence differences between the two proteins occur near their N terminus. Results obtained from domain swapping experiments demonstrated that the single amino acid sequence difference near the C terminus of these enzymes did not alter the enzyme's substrate specificity. However, swapping a region near the N terminus of the truncated form of FucT III into an homologous region in FucT V produced a protein with both alpha1,3- and alpha1,4-fucosyltransferase activity. This region contains 8 of the amino acid sequence differences that occur between the two proteins.