The cyclic nucleotide-gated channel from rod photoreceptors is composed of two distinct subunits (alpha and beta). The properties of the alpha subunit, which can form functional channels by itself, are modified by coexpression with a homologous polypeptide, designated the beta subunit. However, the alpha subunit from rod photoreceptor membranes copurifies with a 240 kDa protein that is significantly larger than this putative beta subunit. We now demonstrate by peptide sequencing and by cloning and functional expression of cDNA that the 240 kDa protein represents the complete beta subunit with an unusual bipartite structure. The N-terminal part is essentially identical to a glutamic acid-rich protein (GARP), whereas the C-terminal part is highly homologous to the previously cloned human "beta subunit." Expression of the complete beta subunit in HEK 293 cells results in a polypeptide with the same apparent molecular weight as the 240 kDa protein of the native rod channel. Coexpression of the alpha subunit with the full-length beta subunit yields hetero-oligomeric channels with properties characteristic of the native channel.