Evidence is presented for a family of mammalian homologs of ependymin, which we have termed the mammalian ependymin-related proteins (MERPs). Ependymins are secreted glycoproteins that form the major component of the cerebrospinal fluid in many teleost fish. We have cloned the entire coding region of human MERP-1 and mapped the gene to chromosome 7p14.1 by fluorescence in situ hybridization. In addition, three human MERP pseudogenes were identified on chromosomes 8, 16, and X. We have also cloned the mouse MERP-1 homolog and an additional family member, mouse MERP-2. Then, using bioinformatics, the mouse MERP-2 gene was localized to chromosome 13, and we identified the monkey MERP-1 homolog and frog ependymin-related protein (ERP). Despite relatively low amino acid sequence conservation between piscine ependymins, toad ERP, and MERPs, several amino acids (including four key cysteine residues) are strictly conserved, and the hydropathy profiles are remarkably alike, suggesting the possibilities of similar protein conformation and function. As with fish ependymins, frog ERP and MERPs contain a signal peptide typical of secreted proteins. The MERPs were found to be expressed at high levels in several hematopoietic cell lines and in nonhematopoietic tissues such as brain, heart, and skeletal muscle, as well as several malignant tissues and malignant cell lines. These findings suggest that MERPs have several potential roles in a range of cells and tissues.