The noncollagenous domain of collagen from three different basement membranes of bovine origin (glomerular, lens capsule, and placental) was excised with bacterial collagenase, purified under nondenaturing conditions, and characterized. In each case the domain existed as a hexamer comprised of four distinct subunits (alpha 1 (IV) NC1, alpha 2 (IV) NC1, M2*, and M3). Each subunit exists in both monomeric and dimeric (disulfide-cross-linked) forms. Certain dimers also exist which contain nonreducible cross-links. The hexamers from the three membranes differ with respect to stoichiometry of subunits and subunit isoforms and to the degree of cross-linking of monomers into dimers. The minor subunits, M2* and M3, vary in quantity over a 20-fold range relative to the major ones among the three hexamers. The results indicate that: 1) at least two populations of triple-helical collagen molecules, differing in chain composition, exist in each membrane and that their relative proportions are tissue-specific; and 2) the chemical nature of the noncollagenous domain of these populations is tissue-specific with regard to subunit isoforms and relative proportion of reducible and nonreducible cross-links in dimers. A novel structural feature of the noncollagenous domain of basement membrane collagen was also evinced from these studies. Namely, that each of the four monomeric subunits exists in charge isoforms.