We have examined the trafficking of the mucin-like protein endolyn in transfected, polarized MDCK cells using biochemical approaches and immunofluorescence microscopy. Although endolyn contains a lysosomal targeting motif of the type YXXPhi and was localized primarily to lysosomes at steady state, significant amounts of newly synthesized endolyn were delivered to the apical cell surface. Antibodies to endolyn, but not lamp-2, were preferentially internalized from the apical plasma membrane and efficiently transported to lysosomes. Analysis of endolyn-CD8 chimeras showed that the lumenal domain of endolyn contains apical targeting information that predominates over basolateral information in its cytoplasmic tail. Interestingly, surface polarity of endolyn was independent of O-glycosylation processing, but was reversed by disruption of N-glycosylation using tunicamycin. At all times, endolyn was soluble in cold Triton X-100, suggesting that apical sorting was independent of sphingolipid rafts. Our data indicate that a strong, N-glycan-dependent apical targeting signal in the lumenal domain directs endolyn into a novel biosynthetic pathway to lysosomes, which occurs via the apical surface of polarized epithelial cells.