Properdin (P) is synthesized by the human promyelocytic cell line, HL-60, after differentiation with DMSO. The secreted P was physiochemically indistinguishable from purified plasma P. It was polymerized and able to bind to C3IBb-Sepharose but not to C3i-Sepharose. No extracellular precursor was present. The intracellular form, detected between 1 and 4 h after labeling, was similar but had a slightly lower Mr. It also bound reversibly to C3iBb-Sepharose, and polymers could be demonstrated by cross-linking. Pulse-chase experiments suggested the existence of an earlier, but undetectable, intracellular precursor(s). This form could not be immunoprecipitated even when harsh solubilization conditions and/or antibodies against reduced and denatured P were utilized. Studies with endoglycosidases F and H and tunicamycin indicated that the detectable intracellular precursor contains high mannose N-linked carbohydrate that is processed to the complex form before secretion. The sugars are not required for polymerization, secretion, or functional activity, or responsible for the electrophoretic heterogeneity. Polymerization of P is therefore an early intracellular event, perhaps carefully controlled to prevent anomalous aggregation.