The lecticans are a family of chondroitin sulfate proteoglycans including aggrecan, versican, neurocan, and brevican. The C-terminal globular domains of lecticans are structurally related to selectins, consisting of a C-type lectin domain flanked by epidermal growth factor and complement regulatory protein domains. The C-type lectin domain of versican has been shown to bind tenascin-R, an extracellular matrix protein specifically expressed in the nervous system, and the interaction was presumed to be mediated by a carbohydrate-protein interaction. In this paper, we show that the C-type lectin domain of brevican, another lectican that is specifically expressed in the nervous system, also binds tenascin-R. Surprisingly, this interaction is mediated by a protein-protein interaction through the fibronectin type III domains 3-5 of tenascin-R, independent of any carbohydrates or sulfated amino acids. The lectin domains of versican and other lecticans also bind the same domain of tenascin-R by protein-protein interactions. Surface plasmon resonance analysis revealed that brevican lectin has at least a 10-fold higher affinity than the other lectican lectins. Tenascin-R is coprecipitated with brevican from adult rat brain extracts, suggesting that tenascin-R and brevican form complexes in vivo. These results demonstrate that the C-type lectin domain can interact with fibronectin type III domains through protein-protein interactions, and suggest that brevican is a physiological tenascin-R ligand in the adult brain.