Type II procollagen is synthesized in long (type IIA) and short (type IIB) forms because of alternative splicing of mRNA; the long form containing an additional cysteine-rich domain in the amino-propeptide. An antiserum (IIA) that recognizes this domain was used for immunolocalization studies on adult bovine vitreous at light and electron microscopic levels and for Western blot analyses. The immunolocalization studies revealed labelling by the IIA antiserum of the vitreous collagen fibrils. This labelling was removed by prior extraction of the fibrils with 6 M guanidine hydrochloride (GuHCl) and the extract was shown to contain pN-type IIA procollagen. Adult vitreous collagen fibrils are coated with pN-type IIA procollagen, a finding with potential implications for vitreous collagen fibril structure and function. (C) 2000 Elsevier Science B.V./International Society of Matrix Biology.