Angiotensin-converting enzyme, a dipeptidyl carboxypeptidase, catalyzes the conversion of angiotensin I to the vasoactive peptide angiotensin II. The finding of angiotensin-converting enzyme in dexamethasone- stimulated cultured monocytes and alveolar macrophages prompted the examination of a human monocyte-like cell line (U937) for angiotensin I- converting activity. Conversion of angiotensin I (5 X 10(-5) mol/L) to angiotensin II by U937 cell extracts (10(4) - 4 X 10(6) cells) was detected, and the pH optimum for the reaction was 7.0 to 8.0. The U937 cell angiotensin I-converting activity was purified to homogeneity by carboxymethylcellulose chromatography and trasylol affinity chromatography. The purified protein performed similarly to purified human neutrophil cathepsin G on sodium dodecyl sulfate-gradient polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis (SDS-gradient PAGE), elicited a reaction of complete identity with neutrophil cathepsin G when diffused against anti-cathepsin G antiserum, and had quantitatively similar angiotensin I-converting activity as neutrophil cathepsin G. Neutrophils and U937 cells had 143 and 52 times greater angiotensin I- converting capability than cultured monocytes or peripheral blood mononuclear cells, suggesting the relative importance of mobile cells containing cathepsin G in the local generation of angiotensin II. These data identify the angiotensin I-converting activity of the U937 cell as leukocyte cathepsin G and provide evidence that the U937 cell has neutrophil-like as well as monocyte-like characteristics.