Peanut lectin (PNA) is known to bind more strongly to keratinocytes that are undergoing terminal differentiation than to proliferating keratinocytes, both in intact epidermis and in culture. In order to investigate the significance of this change in cell-surface carbohydrate we have identified the PNA-binding glycoproteins of cultured human keratinocytes and raised antibodies against them. Two heavily glycosylated bands of 110 and 250 kDa were resolved by PAGE of [14C]galactose- or [14C]mannose- and [14C]glucosamine-labeled cell extracts eluted with galactose from PNA affinity columns. The higher molecular weight band was also detected on PNA blots of unlabeled cell extracts transferred to nitrocellulose. Both bands were sensitive to Pronase digestion, but only the 250-kDa band was digested with trypsin. A rabbit antiserum that we prepared (anti-PNA-gp) immunoprecipitated both bands from cell extracts. In contrast to PNA, anti-PNA-gp bound equally to proliferating and terminally differentiating cells, indicating that some epitope(s) of the PNA-binding glycoproteins is present on the cell surface prior to terminal differentiation. When keratinocytes grown as a monolayer in low-calcium medium (0.1 mM calcium ions) were switched to medium containing 2 mM calcium ions in order to induce desmosome formation and stratification, there was a dramatic redistribution of the PNA-binding glycoproteins, which became concentrated at the boundaries between cells. This may suggest a role for the glycoproteins in cell-cell interactions during stratification.