Cancer antigen 125 (CA-125) is expressed by malignant human ovarian surface epithelial cells and derivatives of the Mullerian duct system. This study explored the expression, regulation, and function of CA-125 in the bovine uterus. CA-125 was localized by immunohistochemistry to the apical surfaces of epithelial cells lining the endometrium and proximal glands of the late luteal phase and early pregnancy; antigen was not detected during oestrus or the postpartum period. Production of CA-125 by bovine endometrial cells in vitro was upregulated by progesterone and interferon-tau. Immunopurified CA-125 from uterine flushes of dioestrous or pregnant cows was similar in biochemical composition (as determined by gel electrophoresis and amino acid content) to the human antigen isolated from incubation medium conditioned by the ovarian cancer cell line OVCAR-3. Bovine CA-125 inhibited complement-induced lysis of antibody-sensitized sheep erythrocytes. It is suggested that endometrial CA-125 exerts a progestational role in part by protecting maternal and embryonic cells from immune targeting and lysis.