The alpha-keratins, the principal components of the tonafilaments, were extracted, characterized and compared in bovine hoof and snout epidermis. The alpha-fibrous proteins of these tissues are similar with respect to their molecular weights, amino acid composition and percentage of helical structure. However, distinct differences in the polypeptides comprising these proteins were observed. Sodium dodecyl sulphate/polyacrylamide-gel electrophoresis of these proteins consistently showed that the polypeptide chain in snout, designated as band B (mol.wt. 67,000), was completely absent from hoof preparations. This was confirmed with several alternative preparative procedures. The peptides produced by digestion of the intact keratins from hoof and snout with CNBr were distinctly different. Finally, digestion of keratins from hoof and snout with trypsin yielded products that differed in size and resistance to further digestion. Thus, in addition to the interspecies polypeptide heterogeneity documented in the literature, this report establishes the intraspecies heterogeneity of keratins and suggests that these differences are due to either the expression of different gene products or differences in post-translational modifications in these two tissues.