Here we report the cloning and characterization of the human homologue of plunc, a murine gene expressed specifically in the upper airways and nasopharyngeal regions. The human plunc cDNA codes for a leucine-rich protein of 256 amino acids which is 72% identical to the murine protein. RNA blot analysis suggests that expression of plunc is restricted to the trachea, upper airway, nasopharyngeal epithelium and salivary gland. The human plunc gene contains nine exons and is localised to chromosome 20q11.2. The unique expression pattern of the human plunc suggest that it may prove a useful model gene with which to study the regulatory mechanisms which direct expression of genes specifically to the upper airways.