We have recently cloned the mouse activity-dependent neuroprotective protein (ADNP). Here, we disclose the cloning of human ADNP (hADNP) from a fetal brain cDNA library. Comparative sequence analysis of these two ADNP orthologs indicated 90% identity at the mRNA level. Several single nucleotide polymorphic sites were noticed. The deduced protein structure contained nine zinc fingers, a proline-rich region, a nuclear bipartite localization signal, and a homeobox domain profile, suggesting a transcription factor function. Further comparative analysis identified an ADNP paralog (33% identity and 46% similarity), indicating that these genes belong to a novel protein family with a nine-zinc finger motif followed by a homeobox domain. The hADNP gene structure spans approximately 40 kilobases and includes five exons and four introns with alternative splicing of an untranslated second exon. The hADNP gene was mapped to chromosome 20q12-13.2, a region associated with aggressive tumor growth, frequently amplified in many neoplasias, including breast, bladder, ovarian, pancreatic, and colon cancers. hADNP mRNA is abundantly expressed in distinct normal tissues, and high expression levels were encountered in malignant cells. Down-regulation of ADNP by antisense oligodeoxynucleotides up-regulated the tumor suppressor p53 and reduced the viability of intestinal cancer cells by 90%. Thus, ADNP is implicated in maintaining cell survival, perhaps through modulation of p53.