We have generated a monoclonal antibody against a synthetic peptide whose sequence was derived from the nucleotide sequence of a cDNA encoding alpha 1(XII) collagen. The antibody, 75d7, has been used to identify the alpha 1(XII) chain on immunoblots of SDS-PAGE tendon extracts as a 220-kD polypeptide, under reducing conditions. Amino-terminal amino acid sequence analysis of an immunopurified cyanogen bromide fragment of type XII collagen from embryonic chick tendons gave a single sequence identical to that predicted from the cDNA, thus confirming that the antibody recognizes the type XII protein. Immunofluorescence studies with the antibody demonstrate that type XII collagen is localized in type I-containing dense connective tissue structures such as tendons, ligaments, perichondrium, and periosteum. With these data, taken together with previous results showing that a portion of the sequence domains of type XII collagen is similar to domains of type IX, a nonfibrillar collagen associated with cross-striated fibrils in cartilage, we suggest that types IX and XII collagens are members of a distinct class of extracellular matrix proteins found in association with quarter-staggered collagen fibrils.