The polymeric IgA receptor (or secretory component [SC]) is a major biliary secretory protein in the rat. It was identified as an 80,000-mol-wt (80 K) glycoprotein by coprecipitation (with IgA) by anti-lgA antibodies (Sztul, E. S., K. E. Howell, and G. E. Palade, 1983, J. Cell Biol., 97:1582-1591) and was used as antigen to raise anti-SC antibodies in rabbits. Pulse labeling with [35S]cysteine in vivo, followed by the immunoprecipitation of solubilized total microsomal fractions with anti-SC sera, made possible the identification of three intracellular forms of SC (all apparently membrane proteins) and the definition of their kinetic and structural interrelations. At 5 min postinjection of [35S]cysteine, a major band of Mr 105,000 was maximally labeled. This peptide lost radioactivity concomitantly with the appearance of a radioactive doublet of Mr 116,000 and 120,000 at 15-30 min postinjection. Loss of radioactivity from 116K paralleled increased labeling of the 120K peptide which appears to be the mature form of the receptor. The 105K form was sensitive to endoglycosidase H which converted it to a 96K peptide. The 116K and 120K forms were resistant to endoglycosidase H but sensitive to endoglycosidase F which converts them to 96K and 100K forms, respectively. Taken together, these findings support the following conclusions: (a) All rat hepatic SC forms are the products of a single gene; (b) all SC forms are N-glycosylated; (c) the 116K form is the result of the terminal glycosylation of the 105K form; and (d) the 120K peptide is probably produced by modifications at other sites than its complex oligosaccharide chains. © 1985, Rockefeller University Press., All rights reserved.