[en] The latex of Ficus carica constitutes an important source of many proteolytic components known under the general term of ficin (EC 184.108.40.206) which belongs to the cysteine proteases of the papain family. So far, no data on the purification and characterization of individual forms of these proteases are available. An effective strategy was used to fractionate and purify to homogeneity five ficin forms, designated A, B, C, D1 and D2 according to their sequence of elution from a cation-exchange chromatographic support. Following rapid fractionation on a SP-Sepharose Fast Flow column, the different ficin forms were chemically modified by a specific and reversible monomethoxypolyethylene glycol (mPEG) reagent. In comparison with their un-derivatized counterparts, the mPEG-protein derivatives behaved differently on the ion-exchanger, allowing us for the first time to obtain five highly purified ficin molecular species titrating 1mol of thiol group per mole of enzyme. The purified ficins were characterized by de novo peptide sequencing and peptide mass fingerprinting analyzes, using mass spectrometry. Circular dichroism measurements indicated that all five ficins were highly structured, both in term of secondary and tertiary structure. Furthermore, analysis of far-UV CD spectra allowed calculation of their secondary structural content. Both these data and the molecular masses determined by MS reinforce the view that the enzymes belong to the family of papain-like proteases. The five ficin forms also displayed different specific amidase activities against small synthetic substrates like dl-BAPNA and Boc-Ala-Ala-Gly-pNA, suggesting some differences in their active site organization. Enzymatic activity of the five ficin forms was completely inhibited by specific cysteine and cysteine/serine proteases inhibitors but was unaffected by specific serine, aspartic and metallo proteases inhibitors.