A developmentally regulated, 160-kDa trypomastigote surface glycoprotein was previously shown to bind the third component of complement and to inhibit activation of the alternative complement pathway, thus providing the parasites a means of avoiding the lytic effects of complement. We now show that this complement regulatory protein (CRP) binds human C4b, a component of the classical pathway C3 convertase, and may therefore also act to restrict classical complement activation. Characterization of the extent of carbohydrate modification of the protein revealed extensive N-linked glycosylation and no apparent O-linked sugars. The CRP purified from parasites treated with an inhibitor of N-linked glycosylation exhibited a decreased binding affinity for C3b compared with that of the fully glycosylated protein. We have previously shown that the protein was anchored to the membrane via a glycosyl phosphatidylinositol linkage and was spontaneously shed from the parasite surface. The spontaneous release of CRP from the parasite surface may augment the protection of the parasites from complement-mediated lysis by the removal of complement-CRP complexes. The majority of the shed CRP had an apparent molecular mass of 160 kDa and lacked the glycolipid anchor, whereas the membrane form was recovered with the glycolipid anchor attached and had an apparent molecular mass of 185 kDa. Both the membrane form (185 kDa) and the soluble form (160 kDa) retained binding affinity for C3b. Evidence is presented to indicate that the conversion of the 185-kDa membrane form to the 160-kDa form is the result of cleavage by an endogenous phospholipase C.