The syndecans are a gene family of four transmembrane heparan sulfate proteoglycans that bind, via their HS chains, diverse components of the cellular microenvironment. To evaluate the expression of the individual syndecans, we prepared cDNA probes to compare mRNA levels in various adult mouse tissues and cultured mouse cells representing various epithelial, fibroblastic, endothelial, and neural cell types and B cells at various stages of differentiation. We also prepared antibody probes to assess whether the extracellular domains of the individual syndecans are shed into the conditioned media of cultured cells. Our results show that all cells and tissues studied, except B-stem cells, express at least one syndecan family member; most cells and tissues express multiple syndecans. However, each syndecan family member is expressed selectively in cell-, tissue-, and development-specific patterns. The extracellular domain of all syndecan family members is shed as an intact proteoglycan. Thus, most, if not all, cells acquire a distinctive repertoire of the four syndecan family members as they differentiate, resulting in selective patterns of expression that likely reflect distinct functions.