Retinaldehyde dehydrogenase (RALDH) isozymes catalyze the formation of an essential developmental modulator, retinoic acid. We determined the structural organization of mouse type-2 Raldh2 by isolation of overlapping genomic DNA clones from a phage library. The gene consists of 14 exons spanning more than 70 kb of genomic DNA. It was localized to mouse chromosome 6. Northern blot analysis revealed testis-specific expression. The RALDH genes belong to the aldehyde dehydrogenase (ALDH) multi-gene family. Three types of RALDH genes (e.g. human ALDH1/mouse Ahd2/rat RalDH(I), human ALDH11/mouse Raldh2/rat RalDH(II) and human ALDH6) are highly conserved during evolution, sharing about 70% identity at the amino acid level between any two gene types and 90% identity between any two mammalian genes of the same type. Different RALDH types show specific tissue and developmental expression patterns, suggesting (i) a regulatory mechanism of retinoic acid synthesis via different promoters of RALDH genes, and (ii) distinctive biological roles of different isozymes in embryogenesis and organogenesis.