Approximately 15 different alpha, or CXC, chemokines have thus far been isolated from 11 species of mammals. Among the best studied chemokines are the 12 human proteins that are encoded by 11 paralogous genes. In order to better understand the evolution and function of this group of genes, we isolated and characterized six novel GRO and GRO-related cDNA sequences from the cow (Bos taurus), the sheep (Ovis aries), the rabbit (Oryctolagus cuniculus), and the guinea pig (Cavia porcellus). The amino acid sequence of the diverged guinea pig GRO or KC gene is only 50%-60% similar to presumed orthologs from other species, while the sheep and cow GRO proteins are 90%-99% similar to each other. The presence of multiple GRO genes in the cow, the rabbit, and the sheep is consistent with what has been observed for humans. Phylogenetic analyses of amino acid sequences from 44 proteins indicate that genes orthologous to many of the 11 known from humans exist in other species. One such gene, interleukin 8, or IL8, has been isolated from nine species, including the rodent guinea pig; however, this gene is absent in the rat and the mouse, indicating a unique gene loss event in the rat/mouse (muroid rodent) lineage. The KC (or MIP2) gene of rodents appears to be orthologous to the GRO gene found in other taxonomic orders. Combined evidence from different sources suggests that IP10 and MIG share sister taxon relationships on the evolutionary tree, while the remaining paralogous genes represent independent lineages, with limited evidence for kinship between them. This observation indicates that these genes originated nearly contemporaneously via a series of gene duplication events. Relative-rate tests for synonymous and nonsynonymous nucleotide substitutions in the KC and IL8 genes did not detect rate heterogeneity; however, there are several notable features regarding the IL8 genes. For example, the IL8 proteins from two Old World monkeys are as similar to one another as they are to the IL8 protein from humans, and all observed nucleotide differences between the IL8 genes of the two monkeys cause amino acid changes; in other words, there are no synonymous differences between them.