Histone deacetylases (HDACs) are important participants in the remodeling of chromatin structure and in the regulation of eukaryotic proliferation and differentiation. We have isolated and characterized the human HDAC5 genomic sequence, which spans a region of 39,138 bp and which has one single chromosomal locus. Determination of the exon-intron splice junctions established that HDAC5 is encoded by 26 exons ranging in size from 22 bp (exon 1) to 285 bp (exon 12). Characterization of the 5' flanking genomic region revealed that the human HDAC5 promoter lacks both the canonical TATA and CCAAT boxes. The human HDAC5 mRNA encodes a 1122 aa protein with a predictive molecular mass of 121.9 kDa and an isoelectric point of 5.84. Fluorescence in situ hybridization analysis localized the human HDAC5 gene to chromosome 17q21, a region which is characterized by frequent gains and losses of chromosomal material in several types of cancer.