The catalytic subunit of protein serine/threonine phosphatase 4 (PP4C) has greater than 65% amino acid identity to the catalytic subunit of protein phosphatase 2A (PP2AC). Despite this high homology, PP4 does not appear to associate with known PP2A regulatory subunits. As a first step toward characterization of PP4 holoenzymes and identification of putative PP4 regulatory subunits, PP4 was purified from bovine testis soluble extracts. PP4 existed in two complexes of approximately 270-300 and 400-450 kDa as determined by gel filtration chromatography. The smaller PP4 complex was purified by sequential phenyl-Sepharose, Source 15Q, DEAE2, and Superdex 200 gel filtration chromatographies. The final product contained two major proteins: the PP4 catalytic subunit plus a protein that migrated as a doublet of 120-125 kDa on SDS-polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis. The associated protein, termed PP4R1, and PP4C also bound to microcystin-Sepharose. Mass spectrometry analysis of the purified complex revealed two major peaks, at 35 (PP4C) and 105 kDa (PP4R1). Amino acid sequence information of several peptides derived from the 105 kDa protein was utilized to isolate a human cDNA clone. Analysis of the predicted amino acid sequence revealed 13 nonidentical repeats similar to repeats found in the A subunit of PP2A (PP2AA). The PP4R1 cDNA clone engineered with an N-terminal Myc tag was expressed in COS M6 cells and PP4C co-immunoprecipitated with Myc-tagged PP4R1. These data indicate that one form of PP4 is similar to the core complex of PP2A in that it consists of a catalytic subunit and a "PP2AA-like" structural subunit.