We have investigated the changes in immunolocalization of a cell surface heparan sulfate proteoglycan (HSPG) in the mouse uterus during the estrous cycle and at the time of implantation in early pregnancy. A monoclonal antibody prepared against syndecan, a cell surface HSPG from mouse mammary epithelium (gift of Dr. M. Bernfield), was reacted with unfixed and fixed frozen sections of uteri from normally cycling, 3.5 and 4.5 days pregnant, and estradiol-treated immature and ovariectomized mature mice. A polyclonal antibody prepared against basal lamina HSPG from Engelbreth-Holm-Swarm (EHS) tumor cells (gift of Dr. John Hassell) was used as a positive control. The latter showed no variation during the estrous cycle or early pregnancy. Localization of syndecan in uterine epithelium changed from basolateral to predominantly basal as the cycle progressed from metestrus toward estrus. A similar pattern was seen in immature and ovariectomized mature females that had received estradiol injections. With the onset of pregnancy, the basolateral localization became progressively less intense from 3.5 days through 4.5 days of pregnancy. Thus, cell surface HSPG distribution is modulated by hormonally dependent changes in cycling and pregnant mice, supporting previous suggestions that early pregnancy in mice is accompanied by a turnover and rearrangement of uterine epithelial cell surface.