Heparan sulfate proteoglycans (HSPGs) are found on the surface of all adherent cells and participate in the binding of growth factors, extracellular matrix glycoproteins, cell adhesion molecules, and proteases and antiproteases. We report here the cloning and pattern of expression of cerebroglycan, a glycosylphosphatidylinositol (GPI)- anchored HSPG that is found in the developing rat brain (previously referred to as HSPG M13; Herndon, M. E., and A. D. Lander. 1990. Neuron. 4:949-961). The cerebroglycan core protein has a predicted molecular mass of 58.6 kD and five potential heparan sulfate attachment sites. Together with glypican (David, G., V. Lories, B. Decock, P. Marynen, J.-J. Cassiman, and H. Van den Berghe. 1990. J. Cell Biol. 111:3165-3176), it defines a family of integral membrane HSPGs characterized by GPI linkage and conserved structural motifs, including a pattern of 14 cysteine residues that is absolutely conserved. Unlike other known integral membrane HSPGs, including glypican and members of the syndecan family of transmembrane proteoglycans, cerebroglycan is expressed in only one tissue: the nervous system. In situ hybridization experiments at several developmental stages strongly suggest that cerebroglycan message is widely and transiently expressed by immature neurons, appearing around the time of final mitosis and disappearing after cell migration and axon outgrowth have been completed. These results suggest that cerebroglycan may fulfill a function related to the motile behaviors of developing neurons.