Hypoxia-inducible factor-1alpha (HIF-1alpha), a member of the transcription family characterized by a basic helix-loop-helix (bHLH) domain and a PAS domain, regulates the transcription of hypoxia-inducible genes involved in erythropoiesis, vascular remodelling and glucose/energy metabolism. It contains bHLH/PAS domains in the N-terminal half, and a nuclear localization signal (NLS) and two transactivation domains (TADs) in the C-terminal half. It also has an oxygen-dependent degradation (ODD) domain, which is required to degrade HIF-1alpha protein by the ubiquitin-proteasome pathway. In this study, we identified a new alternatively spliced variant of human HIF-1alpha mRNA, which lacked both exons 11 and 12, producing a frame shift and giving a shorter form of HIF-1alpha. In the corresponding protein, a part of the ODD domain, both TADs and the C-terminal NLS motif were missing. Expression of endogenous HIF-1alpha variant protein was identified using immunoprecipitation and immunoblotting methods. The expressed HIF-1alpha variant exhibited neither the activity of transactivation nor hypoxia-induced nuclear translocation. In contrast with HIF-1alpha, the variant was strikingly stable in normoxic conditions and not up-regulated to such an extent by hypoxia, cobalt ions or desferrioxamine. It was also demonstrated that the HIF-1alpha variant competed with endogenous HIF-1alpha and suppressed HIF-1 activity, resulting in the down-regulation of mRNA expression of hypoxia-inducible genes. The association of the variant and arylhydrocarbon receptor nuclear translocator in the cytoplasm may be related to the inhibition of HIF-1 activity. It is assumed that this isoform preserves the balance between aerobic and anaerobic metabolism by counteracting the overaction of HIF-1alpha.