The subunit structure and composition of mature human cathepsin C, an oligomeric cysteine proteinase, has been characterised in detail. The heavy chain, light chain and pro-region peptides are shown to be held together solely by non-covalent interactions, and to be present in equimolar ratio, suggesting an important structural role for the residual pro-region chain which is strongly bound to the enzyme. The mass of the light chain, as determined by mass spectrometry, combined with its N-terminal sequence, determines the position of cleavage from the heavy chain. Amino-acid sequencing has led to definition of the 13.5 kDa N-terminal part of the pro-region which remains in the mature enzyme, the C-terminal moiety of 10 kDa being cleaved out and lost from the pro-peptide on activation. The residual pro-region is heterogeneous, a proportion being intact and the remainder being cleaved at alternative positions 58 or 61, yielding two smaller peptides joined by disulphide bond. The proportion of cleaved form was found to vary with tissue and enzyme preparation but did not affect enzyme activity. The molecular masses of the constituent chains after deglycosylation lead to a protein mass of 158 kDa. All four potential glycosylation sites are glycosylated.