We have employed monoclonal antibody 5G3, an antibody used to label human tumor cells of neural origin (Mujoo, K., Spiro, R.C., and Reisfeld, R. A. (1986) J. Biol. Chem. 261, 10299-10305), to isolate and characterize a large glycoprotein from normal adult human brain. This protein was compared to mouse L1 (Rathjen, F. G., and Schachner, M. (1984) EMBO J. 3, 1-10), a neural cell surface glycoprotein implicated predominantly in neurite-neurite interactions. On the basis of the following results the 5G3 antigen is considered to be the human homologue of mouse L1. In sodium dodecyl sulfate-polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis, both proteins share similar molecular masses of their carbohydrate-depleted or undepleted components. In tryptic fingerprint analyses of the iodinated L1 and 5G3 components, 65% of the resolved peptides comigrated. Comparison of NH2-terminal amino acid sequences revealed a high degree of homology between human 5G3 and mouse L1, with 11 of 15 residues being identical. Furthermore, polyclonal antibodies to human 5G3 antigen were found to be cross-reactive with mouse L1 antigen and vice versa. All components of 5G3 and L1 antigens show considerable charge heterogeneity with partial overlapping of regions in isoelectric focusing followed by sodium dodecyl sulfate polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis. These findings provide a basis for studying the role of the human L1 homologue in human diseases.