A recently identified, high m.w. human tumor antigen, reactive with monoclonal antibody (MAb) PD41 and designated prostate mucin antigen (PMA), was found to have expression highly restricted to prostate carcinomas. Both biochemical and immunological characteristics of this antigen and its relationship to other tumor-associated mucins and various species of submaxillary mucins were evaluated. Immunohistochemical examination of submaxillary tissues revealed differential expression of this antigen and other human tumor-associated mucins, with MAb PD41 expression found only in bovine submaxillary gland serous cells. Neuraminidase treatment enhanced antibody binding by 50%, suggesting partial masking of the PD41 epitope by sialic acid. Antigenicity was reduced by treatment with alkaline-borohydride, sodium metaperiodate, β-galactosidase, O-glycanase, and various proteolytic enzymes. MAb PD41 antibody binding also could be significantly reduced by selected lectins and sugars suggesting that the immunodominant carbohydrate involved in the epitope was an O-linked oligosaccharide containing N-acetyl galactosamine as a major component. This antigen was further distinguished from T, Tn, or Sialyl-Tn antigens and blood group carbohydrate antigens by radioimmunometric analyses. Cross-blocking and double determinant RIA experiments also showed a distinction between the PD41 epitope and several well-characterized tumor-associated mucin antigens such as MUCI, CEA, M344, OCI25, and AR3 as well as bovine submaxillary core protein. Our results indicate that the PD41-reactive epitope is a non-acidic O-linked carbohydrate or glycopeptide epitope with restricted expression in prostate carcinomas and bovine submaxillary glands. This expression is distinct from other mucin-like tumor-associated antigens identified in human prostate carcinomas. © 1995 Wiley-Liss, Inc.