As deduced from cDNA clones, the catalytic domain of Bungarus fasciatus venom acetylcholinesterase (AChE) is highly homologous to those of other AChEs. It is, however, associated with a short hydrophilic carboxyl-terminal region, containing no cysteine, that bears no resemblance to the alternative COOH-terminal peptides of the GPI-anchored molecules (H) or of other homomeric or heteromeric tailed molecules (T). Expression of complete and truncated AChE in COS cells showed that active hydrophilic monomers are produced and secreted in all cases, and that cleavage of a very basic 8-residue carboxyl-terminal fragment occurs upon secretion. The COS cells produced Bungarus AChE about 30 times more efficiently than an equivalent secreted monomeric rat AChE. The recombinant Bungarus AChE, like the natural venom enzyme, showed a distinctive ladder pattern in nondenaturing electrophoresis, probably reflecting a variation in the number of sialic acids. By mutagenesis, we showed that two differences (methionine instead of tyrosine at position 70; lysine instead of aspartate or glutamate at position 285) explain the low sensitivity of Bungarus AChE to peripheral site inhibitors, compared to the Torpedo or mammalian AChEs. These results illustrate the importance of both the aromatic and the charged residues, and the fact that peripheral site ligands (propidium, gallamine, D-tubocurarine, and fasciculin 2) interact with diverse subsets of residues.