We have previously identified a 95- to 100-kDa cell surface glycoprotein, which we named BEN (for bursal epithelium and neurons), that is widely expressed during chicken embryonic development. In the central nervous system, it is restricted to subsets of neurons including the motoneurons and the inferior olivary nucleus neurons (which provide the cerebellum with the climbing fibers) where its expression occurs during the phase of axonogenesis and synaptogenesis. In the present work, we show that BEN expression extends to a variety of tissues originating from the three embryonic germ layers. We have found that BEN immunopurified from neural, epithelial, and hemopoietic tissues is differently glycosylated and may or may not carry the HNK-1 epitope. We then cloned a full-length cDNA encoding this protein. Analysis of its sequence reveals that BEN is a member of the immunoglobulin superfamily. Two molecules with an identical cDNA sequence were recently reported: DM-GRASP [Burns, F. R., Von Kannen, S., Guy, L., Raper, J. A., Kamholz, J. & Chang, S. (1991) Neuron 7, 209-220] and SC1 [Tanaka, H., Matsui, T., Agata, A., Tomura, M., Kubota, I., Mcfarland, K. C., Kohr, B., Lee, A., Phillips, H. S. & Shelton, D. L. (1991) Neuron 7, 535-545]. Their pattern of expression and structural properties are consistent with those reported for BEN. Therefore BEN, DM-GRASP, and SC1 are likely to be the same molecule of the immunoglobulin superfamily.