The roles of the components of the Sec34p protein complex in intracellular membrane trafficking, first identified in the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae, have yet to be characterized in higher eukaryotes. We cloned a human cDNA whose predicted amino acid sequence showed 41% similarity to yeast Sec34p with homology throughout the entire coding region. Affinity-purified antibodies raised against the human SEC34 protein (hSec34p) recognized a cellular protein of 94 kDa in both soluble and membrane fractions. Like yeast Sec34p, cytosolic hSec34p migrated with an apparent molecular mass of 300 kDa on a glycerol velocity gradient, suggesting that it is part of a protein complex. Immunofluorescence microscopy localized hSec34p to the Golgi compartment in cells of all species examined, where it co-localized well with the cis/medial Golgi marker membrin and partially co-localized with cis-Golgi network marker p115 and trans-Golgi marker TGN38. The co-localization with membrin was maintained at 15 degrees C and after microtubule depolymerization with nocodazole. During transport of the tsO45 vesicular stomatitis virus G protein through the Golgi, there was significant overlap with the hSec34p compartment. Green fluorescent protein-hSec34 expressed in HeLa cells was restricted to Golgi cisternae, and its membrane association was sensitive to brefeldin A treatment. Taken together, our findings indicate that hSec34p is part of a peripheral membrane protein complex localized on cis/medial Golgi cisternae where it may participate in tethering intra-Golgi transport vesicles.