Pentraxins, which include C reactive protein (CRP) and serum amyloid P component (SAP), are prototypic acute phase reactants that serve as indicators of inflammatory reactions. Here we report genomic and cDNA cloning of mouse ptx3 (mptx3), a member of the pentraxin gene family and characterize its extrahepatic expression in vitro and in vivo. mptx3 is organized into three exons on chromosome 3: the first (43 aa) and second exon (175 aa) code for the signal peptide and for a protein portion with no high similarity to known sequences the third (203 aa) for a domain related to classical pentraxins, which contains the “pentraxin family signature.” Analysis of the N terminal portion predicts a predominantly alpha helical structure, while the pentraxin domain of ptx3 is accommodated comfortably in the tertiary structure fold of SAP. Normal and transformed fibroblasts, undifferentiated and differentiated myoblasts, normal endothelial cells, and mononuclear phagocytes express mptx3 mRNA and release the protein in vitro on exposure to interleukin-1beta (IL-1beta) and tumor necrosis factor (TNF)alpha. mptx3 was induced by bacterial lipopolysaccharide in vivo in a variety of organs and, most strongly, in the vascular endothelium of skeletal muscle and heart. Thus, mptx3 shows a distinct pattern of in vivo expression indicative of a significant role in cardiovascular and inflammatory pathology.