OBJECTIVETo isolate and characterize factor I of the bovine complement system. Sample Population-Serum obtained from the blood of beef cattle.PROCEDURESSerum samples were fractionated to yield factor I by means of sequential precipitation, ion-exchange, and gel-filtration chromatography. The protein was identified throughout the procedure on the basis of its ability to degrade the alpha'-chain of bovine C3b in the presence of bovine factor H. Electrophoresis in polyacrylamide gels was used to assess the degradation of C3b and determine the molecular weights of factor I and its component polypeptide chains.RESULTSBovine factor I had an apparent molecular weight of 94 kd and consisted of 2 disulfide-bonded polypeptides that had apparent molecular weights of 51 and 42 kd (under reducing conditions). Factor H was required for the factor I cleavage of the alpha'-chain of bovine C3b into iC3b. A similar cofactor effect was provided by trypsinized bovine erythrocytes or erythrocyte ghosts. Bovine properdin was prepared and shown to be a single polypeptide chain of 58 kd in the reduced form.CONCLUSIONS AND CLINICAL RELEVANCEBovine factor I can be purified from serum by a simple 4-step procedure. It is structurally and functionally comparable to factor I of other species, and its purification completes the isolation and characterization of all the soluble components of the bovine alternative complement pathway.