The peritrophic matrix is a prominent feature of the digestive tract of most insects, but its function, formation, and even its composition remain contentious. This matrix is a molecular sieve whose toughness and elasticity are generated by glycoproteins, proteoglycans, and chitin fibrils. We now describe a small, highly conserved protein, peritrophin-15, which is an abundant component of the larval peritrophic matrices of the Old World screwworm fly, Chrysomya bezziana, and sheep blowfly, Lucilia cuprina. Their deduced amino acid sequences code for a 8-kDa secreted protein characterized by a highly conserved and novel register of six cysteines. Two Drosophila homologues have also been identified from unannotated genomic sequences. Recombinant peritrophin-15 binds strongly and specifically to chitin; however, the stoichiometry of binding is low ( 1:10 ,000 N-acetyl glucosamine). We propose that peritrophin-15 caps the ends of the chitin polymer. Immunogold studies localized peritrophin-15 to the peritrophic matrix and specific vesicles in cells of the cardia, the small organ of the foregut responsible for peritrophic matrix synthesis. The vesicular contents are disgorged at the base of microvilli underlying the newly formed peritrophic matrix. This is the first time that the process of synthesis and integration of a peritrophic matrix protein into the nascent peritrophic matrix has been observed.