The noncollagenous domain hexamer of collagen IV from bovine alveolar basement membrane was excised with bacterial collagenase, purified under nondenaturing conditions, and characterized. The hexamer is comprised of four distinct subunits [alpha 1(IV)NC1, alpha 2(IV)NC1, alpha 3(IV)NC1, and alpha 4(IV)NC1]. Each subunit exists in both monomeric and dimeric (disulfide-crosslinked) form, and both monomers and dimers have charge isoforms. Certain dimers also contain nonreducible crosslinks. The alpha 3(IV)NC1 subunit, in both the monomeric and dimeric form, reacts with Goodpasture (GP) antibodies. The GP epitope is sequestered within the hexamer and becomes reactive with antibody upon exposure with protein denaturants. These results reveal that the alveolar basement membrane hexamer is identical to the hexamer from glomerular basement membrane with respect to subunit composition, identity of subunits reacting with GP antibodies, and sequestration of the GP epitope but differs greatly in the relative amount of the GP-reactive subunit and the degree of disulfide and nondisulfide crosslinking of subunits. This study leads to the conclusion that pulmonary hemorrhage associated with GP syndrome is mediated by the same autoantibody that mediates the glomerulonephritis, namely anti-collagen [alpha 3(IV)] antibody.