Mouse vitronectin (Vn) was isolated from serum by heparin affinity chromatography. The purified protein (Mr 71,000) supported adhesion of mouse and human cells in an Arg-Gly-Asp-dependent manner and bound to type 1 plasminogen activator inhibitor with kinetics similar to those observed using human and bovine Vn. To further characterize murine Vn and its biosynthesis in vivo, a mouse Vn cDNA was isolated from a liver cDNA library. The amino acid sequence of mouse Vn was deduced from the cDNA and was aligned with that of human Vn. Based on this alignment, mouse Vn was inferred to be 457 amino acids long and to have extensive (82%) homology with human Vn. Northern blot hybridization analysis of RNA from mouse tissues, using the mouse Vn cDNA as a hybridization probe, revealed the presence of a single transcript of 1.7 kilobases in mouse liver. Vn mRNA was not detectable in heart, lung, kidney, spleen, muscle, brain, thymus, testes, uterus, skin, adipose tissue, and aorta. The cellular localization of liver Vn mRNA was studied by in situ hybridization. Strong staining was observed only in hepatocytes, suggesting that these cells are the primary source of Vn in vivo.