We have utilized differential display polymerase chain reaction to investigate the gene expression of hematopoietic progenitor cells from adult bone marrow and umbilical cord blood. A differentially expressed gene was identified in CD34+ hematopoietic progenitor cells, with low expression in CD34- cells. We have obtained the full coding sequence of this gene which we designated human mammalian ependymin-related protein 1 (MERP1). Expression of MERP1 was found in a variety of normal human tissues, and is 4- and 10-fold higher in adult bone marrow and umbilical cord blood CD34+ cells, respectively, compared to CD34- cells. Additionally, MERP1 expression in a hematopoietic stem cell enriched population was down-regulated with proliferation and differentiation. Conceptual translation of the MERP1 open reading frame reveals significant homology to two families of glycoprotein calcium-dependant cell adhesion molecules: ependymins and protocadherins.