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Zcash is an implementation of the Zerocash cryptographic protocol operating over a block chain provided by a fork of the Bitcoin source code. Sitting between the two is the Zcash protocol itself.
Zerocash is a peer-reviewed cryptographic protocol providing decentralized anonymous e-cash on top of a block chain. The details of this protocol, along with a proof of security, can be found at http://zerocash-project.org/paper.
The details of how to integrate the Zerocash cryptographic scheme into a Bitcoin consensus protocol are crucial to overall usability, security, and performance. Zcash includes important security fixes and functionality enhancements relative to Zerocash, as well as a new proof of work. This specification is a work in progress.
The current version on the testnet is 170002.
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Bitcoin Developer Reference
Zcash is based on Bitcoin, so much of the underlying consensus protocol is the same.