Two coeluting components, with experimentally measured M(r) values of 25529 and 24606 Da, were identified by reversed-phase high-performance liquid chromatography (RP-HPLC) and mass spectrometric analysis in the dephosphorylated casein fraction of a milk sample collected from an individual donkey belonging to the Ragusano breed of the east of Sicily. By coupling enzymatic digestions, matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization time-of-flight mass spectrometry (MALDI-TOF MS) and RP-HPLC/nano-electrospray ionization tandem mass spectrometry (nESI-MS/MS) analysis, the two proteins were identified as donkey beta-CNs and their sequences characterized completely, using the two known beta-CNs from mare as references. The two donkey beta-CNs, showing a mass difference of 923 Da, differ by the presence of the domain E(27)SITHINK(34) in the full-length component (M(r) 25529 Da). In comparison with the mare's beta-CNs used as reference, they present nine amino acid substitutions: L-->S(37), R-->H(52), S-->N(81), P-->V(84), L-->V(91), R-->Q(203), P-->L/I(206), L-->F(210) and A-->P(219). Together, these substitutions account for the increase of 18 Da in the M(r) of the donkey beta-CNs with respect to the counterparts from the mare. The molecular mass determination by ESI-MS for the phosphorylated proteins showed that the full-length component was composed of highly multi-phosphorylated isoforms with five to seven phosphate groups. By analogy with the homologous mare's beta-CNs, the full-length (226 amino acids) beta-CN was termed variant A, whereas the shorter (218 amino acids) beta-CN was termed variant A(Delta5).