The cDNAs encoding human prostatic acid phosphatase were cloned and characterized. The mRNAs contain 3' noncoding regions of heterogeneous sizes 646, 1887 or 1913 nucleotides. A dimer and a monomer of the conserved Alu-repeats are present in the longer 3' noncoding sequences. The complete sequence of 354 amino acids for the mature enzyme was determined by sequencing both cDNA and protein. Human prostatic and lysosomal acid phosphatases exhibit 50% sequence homology, including five Cys residues and two putative N-linked glycosylation sites. The Acp-3 gene coding for human prostatic acid phosphatase was mapped onto chromosome 3 in this investigation. The Acp-2 gene coding for lysosomal acid phosphatase has previously been located on chromosome 11, while the Acp-1 gene coding for red blood cell acid phosphatase is on chromosome 2.