This report describes the primary structure of a rat liver beta-galactoside alpha 2,6-sialyltransferase (EC 220.127.116.11), a Golgi apparatus enzyme involved in the terminal sialylation of N-linked carbohydrate groups of glycoproteins. The complete amino acid sequence was deduced from the nucleotide sequence of cDNA clones of the enzyme. The primary structure suggests that the topology of the enzyme in the Golgi apparatus consists of a short NH2-terminal cytoplasmic domain, a 17-residue hydrophobic sequence which serves as the membrane anchor and signal sequence, and a large lumenal, catalytic domain. NH2-terminal sequence analysis of a truncated form of the enzyme, obtained by purification from tissue homogenates, reveals that it is missing a 63-residue NH2-terminal peptide which includes the membrane binding domain. These and supporting results show that soluble forms of the sialyltransferase can be generated by proteolytic cleavage between the NH2-terminal signal-anchor and the catalytic domain.