Interferon gamma (IFN-gamma) is a multifunctional cytokine that is essential in the development of Th1 cells and in cellular responses to a variety of intracellular pathogens including human immunodeficiency virus (HIV-1). We screened genomic DNA samples from a predominately Caucasian male population of HIV-infected and healthy donors for polymorphisms in the human IFNG gene from -777 to +5608 by single-stranded conformational polymorphism. Surprisingly, the proximal promoter (-777 to transcription start) is invariant as no polymorphisms were found in over 100 samples tested. However, further screening revealed polymorphisms in other regions of the gene including a single base insertion in a poly-T tract in the first intron, three single base pair substitutions in the third intron, and another single base pair substitution in the 3' untranslated region (UTR). Electrophoretic mobility shift assay was used to investigate whether these variants have altered DNA-binding abilities, since intronic enhancer elements have been reported for the IFNG gene. Oligonucleotides constructed for two third intron variants showed no difference in DNA-binding abilities as compared with wild-type sequences. However, the 3'UTR variant showed the formation of unique DNA-binding complexes to radiolabeled oligonucleotide probes as compared with the wild-type sequence. The influence of a CA-repeat microsatellite on AIDS disease progression in HIV-1 seroconverters was tested by a Cox proportional hazards model. There is no evidence of an association between alleles and infection with HIV-1 or progression to AIDS. We report an invariant proximal human IFNG promoter and the existence of multiple intronic variants and a potentially functional 3'UTR polymorphism.