ADP ribosyl cyclase synthesizes the novel secondary messenger cyclic ADP ribose (cADPR) utilizing NAD as a substrate. The enzyme shares extensive sequence similarity with two lymphocyte antigens, CD38 and BST-1, which hydrolyse as well as synthesize cADPR. The crystal structure provides a model for these cell surface enzymes. Cyclase contains two spatially separated pockets composed of sequence conserved residues, suggesting that the cyclization reaction may entail use of distinct sites. The enzyme dimer encloses a cavity which may entrap the intermediate, ADP ribose.