Hagfish, agnathan cyclostome, is the most primitive extant vertebrate and its complement (C) system seems to be a primordial system in comparison with a well-developed C system in gnathostome vertebrates. From a phylogenic perspective of defense mechanisms, we have isolated complement C3 from the serum of hagfish (Eptatretus burgeri). In this study, we first attempted to identify a hagfish Bf or C2 as a C3 convertase by RT-PCR using degenerative primers designed on the basis of the conserved amino acid stretches among the several kinds of serine proteases. Contrary to our expectation, homology search of cloned RT-PCR product suggested that there was a partial cDNA encoding the homologue of neither Bf nor C2 but a mannose-binding lectin-associated serine protease (MASP). Analyses of a full-length cDNA clone isolated from a hagfish liver cDNA library by using the partial cDNA as a probe indicated that this cDNA encoded hagfish MASP 1. This evidence strongly suggests that the hagfish defends itself against pathogens at least by the complement system composed of lectin pathway.