Human membrane cofactor protein (MCP; CD46) is a widely distributed complement regulator. In the mouse, expression of MCP is largely restricted to the testis while a related, widely expressed protein (Crry) appears to perform MCP's (CD46) regulatory activity. We have developed two mouse strains transgenic for human MCP (CD46) utilizing an approximately 400 kb YAC clone carrying the complete gene. A third mouse strain was generated using an overlapping YAC clone isolated from a second library. The expression of human MCP (CD46) in these mouse strains was characterized by immunohistochemistry, FACS, Western blotting and RT-PCR. No differences were detected in the isoform pattern or distribution among the three strains, although the expression level varied according to how many copies of the gene were integrated. The expression profile closely mimicked that observed in humans, including the same pattern of isoform expression as the donor. In addition, tissue-specific isoform expression in the kidney, salivary gland and brain paralleled that observed in man. The transgenic mice expressed low levels of MCP (CD46) on their E, in contrast to humans but in line with most other primates. These mice should be a useful tool to analyse tissue-specific expression, to establish animal models of infections and to characterize the role of MCP (CD46) in reproduction.