Two GTPase-activating proteins (GAPs) have been detected in extracts from bovine brain: GAP-1, which is specific for the activation of ras GTPases, and GAP-3, which is specific for the activation of the rap1 GTPases. We present a strategy for the purification to homogeneity of a cytosolic form of GAP-3 from bovine brain. The 100,000 x g supernatant from homogenized brains was chromatographed sequentially on DEAE Fast Flow, green H-E4BD Sepharose, Bio-Gel A1.5, hydroxyapatite, and phenyl-Sepharose prior to high resolution separation on Mono Q HR 5/5, phenyl-Superose HR 5/5, Mono Q PC 1.6/5, and Superose 12 PC 3.2/30. This procedure resulted in an approximately 18,000-fold purification, yielding 50 micrograms of GAP-3 from 1.6 kg of tissue. Purified cytosolic GAP-3 migrated as a single band of apparent Mr 55,000 on sodium dodecyl sulfate-polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis. However, on gel filtration cytosolic GAP-3 chromatographed as a dimer with an apparent Mr 92,000. Purified GAP-3 does not activate ras or rho GTPases and possesses no intrinsic GTPase activity. Amino acid sequence data indicated a proline-rich N terminus. The amino acid sequences of peptides generated by Staphylococcus aureus V8 digestion of reduced and pyridine-ethylated GAP-3 showed no similarity to the predicted primary structure of GAP-1 or any other proteins in the nucleic acid or protein data bases. By comparison with the data of Rubinfeld et al. (Rubinfeld, B., Munemitsu, S., Clark, R., Conroy, L., Watt, K., Crosier, W.J., McCormick, F., and Polakis, P. (1991) Cell 65, 1033-1042), it appears that the membrane-associated (Mr 85,000-95,000) and cytosolic forms of GAP-3 are derived from equivalent, or closely related, genes.