Collagen from pig vitreous humour was fractionated into a soluble and an insoluble fraction by centrifugation. Most of the collagen II in the soluble fraction was present as pN-collagen II (procollagen II without the C-terminal propeptide), besides smaller quantities of procollagen II, collagen II and two as yet unidentified alpha-chains of collagen II. Other collagen types may be present only in trace amounts. Collagen II of the insoluble fraction, which is mostly deposited in fibrillar aggregates, consists of both pN-collagen II and collagen II. To determine the possible role of collagen II precursors in the formation of the extracellular matrix of the vitreous humour these collagen molecules were purified and in vitro fibrillogenesis was used to demonstrate that pN-collagen II could form fibrils in mixtures with collagen II. These fibrils have a reduced mass per unit length depending on the content of pN-collagen in the mixture. Cross-sections of the newly formed fibrillar aggregates revealed a flattened shape. The incomplete processing of the precursors of collagen II may be part of regulatory mechanisms possibly controlling the formation of a translucent scaffold as is required in the vitreous humour.