We have cloned the gene neuron navigator-1 (NAV1), a human homolog of unc-53, a gene involved in axon guidance in Caenorhabditis elegans. Duplications during evolution gave rise to three human homologs located on chromosomes 1q32.1, 11p15.1, and 12q21.1. NAV1 and NAV2 are expressed in the developing brain. NAV1, NAV2, and NAV3 expression is detected in adult heart, kidney, and brain, respectively. NAV1 encodes a protein lacking, in the aminoterminal part, a CH domain present in the other NAV genes. The first exon of NAV1 arose through an ancient internal duplication of sequences that also gave rise to exon 8 of NAV3 and exon 7 of NAV2. A detailed study of the NAV environment on the different chromosomes reveals incomplete micro-syntheny between the three regions. Through analysis of the phylogenetic relationships for three different gene families in the NAV environment, we reconstructed part of the events that formed these regions.