UDP-N-acetyl-D-glucosamine:alpha-6-D-mannoside beta-1,2-N-acetylglucosaminyltransferase II (EC 18.104.22.168) (GnT II) is a Golgi resident enzyme that catalyzes an essential step in the biosynthetic pathway leading from high mannose to complex N-linked oligosaccharides. Sodium dodecyl sulfate-polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis analysis of the enzyme purified from rat liver revealed a polypeptide of 42 kDa. Amino acid sequences were obtained from the N terminus and a tryptic peptide. Overlapping cDNA clones coding for the full-length rat GnT II were obtained. The complete nucleotide sequence revealed a 1326-base pair open reading frame that codes for a polypeptide of 442 amino acids, including a presumptive N-terminal membrane-anchoring domain. The region of cDNA coding for the C-terminal 389 amino acids of rat GnT II was linked in frame to a cDNA segment encoding the cleavable signal sequence of the human interleukin-2 receptor and transiently expressed in COS-7 cells. A 77-fold enhancement of GnT II activity over a control carrying the GnT II cDNA out-of-frame was detected in the culture medium at 72 h after transfection. 1H-NMR spectroscopy confirmed that the oligosaccharide synthesized in vitro by the recombinant enzyme was the product of GnT II activity. These data verify the identity of the cloned GnT II cDNA and demonstrate that the C-terminal region of the protein includes the catalytic domain.