Glutaminolysis is initiated by either of two isoforms, K- and L-types, of the enzyme phosphate-activated glutaminase. The chromosomal localization, genomic organization, and the tissue-specific expression of the genes have been investigated in the human by using isoform-specific cDNA probes. Results obtained from radiation hybrid mapping experiments assigned the K-glutaminase gene to human Chromosome (Chr) 2, and a second locus for L-glutaminase in Chr 12 was identified. Southern blot analysis with the L-cDNA probe showed hybridization to a single restriction fragment, while four to seven fragments were found to hybridize to the K-cDNA probe. The distribution of human glutaminase expression was also investigated: the L-cDNA probe detected a single band of 2.4 kb in liver, brain, and pancreas, whereas a single transcript of approximately 4.4 kb was detected in kidney, brain, heart, placenta, lung, and pancreas by using the K-cDNA probe. This work provides evidence that the human liver and kidney glutaminase isozymes are encoded by separate genes located on different chromosomes; furthermore, the expression pattern in human tissues revealed for both isoenzymes differs notably from the paradigm based upon the isoenzyme distribution in rats.