The major proteins synthesized and released by Clara cells were identified and compared with those synthesized and released by mixed lung cells. Highly purified Clara cells (85.9 ± 2.4%) and mixed lung cells (Clara cells 4%, Type II cells 33%, granulocytes 18%, macrophages 2.7%, ciliated cells 1.2%) were isolated from rabbit lungs, incubated with Ham's F12 medium in collagen/fibronectin-coated plastic culture dishes in the presence of 35S-methionine for periods of 4 and 18 hrs. Radiolabelled proteins were isolated from the cells and from the culture medium, electrophoresed on polyacrylamide gels in the presence of SDS under reducing conditions, and then autoradiographed. After 4 and 18 hr of incubation of the Clara cells the major radiolabelled cell-associated proteins were those with molecular weights of 6, 48, and 180 Kd. The major radiolabelled proteins released by Clara cells into the medium after 4 hrs of incubation had molecular weights of 6, 48, and 180 Kd, accounting for 42, 16, and 10%, respectively, of the total extracellular protein-associated radioactivity. After 18 hr of incubation the 6 and 48 Kd proteins represented 30 and 18% of the total released radioactivity, and the relative amount of the 180 Kd protein had decreased to 3%. With the mixed lung cells, the major proteins released into the medium had molecular weights of 6 and 48 Kd. Under nonreducing conditions the 6 Kd protein released by Clara cells had an apparent molecular weight of 12 Kd. Labelling isolated Clara cells with a mixture of 14C-amino acids also identified this low molecular weight protein as the major secretory product of the Clara cell. The 6 Kd protein did not label when the cells were incubated with 14C-glucosamine indicating that it was not a glycoprotein. These data demonstrate the release of several proteins from isolated Clara cells but the major protein had a molecular weight of 6 Kd. © 1986 Informa UK Ltd All rights reserved: reproduction in whole or part not permitted.