Polyomavirus large T antigen has an N-terminal domain of approximately 260 amino acids which can immortalize primary cells but lacks sequences known to be required for DNA binding and replication. Treatment of full-length large T with either V8 protease or chymotrypsin yields an N-terminal fragment of 36 to 40 kDa and a C-terminal fragment of approximately 60 kDa. This finding suggests a division of the protein into two domains. Proteolysis experiments show that the N-terminal domain does not have strong physical association with the rest of the protein. It also does not self-associate. A construct expressing only the N-terminal 259 amino acids is sufficient for immortalization. The independently expressed N-terminal domain is multiply phosphorylated, although at a lower level than the same region in full-length large T. The 259-residue protein binds to both pRb and p107 with somewhat lower efficiency than the full-length protein.