Three cytoplasmic proteins, called catenins, bind to the cytoplasmic tail of the epithelial cell-cell adhesion molecule E-cadherin. The complementary DNA sequence was determined for the 92-kilodalton beta catenin of Xenopus laevis. The sequence is homologous to mammalian plakoglobin, a protein of desmosomal and zonula adherens cell junctions, and to the plakoglobin homolog in Drosophila melanogaster, the product of the segment polarity gene armadillo. A monoclonal antibody to bovine plakoglobin recognizes the analogous beta catenin in the Madin-Darby canine kidney (MDCK) cell line. Armadillo plakoglobin may link E-cadherin to the underlying actin cytoskeleton at cell-cell junctions; the E-cadherin-catenin protein complex may also participate in the transmission of developmental information.