Rhabdomyosarcoma (RMS) is a malignant soft tissue tumor showing varying degrees of skeletal muscle differentiation. Two major histologic subtypes exist, alveolar and embryonal, each with associated molecular genetic changes. We have used Representational Difference Analysis (RDA) to compare gene expression between the two RMS subtypes and have identified the novel gene NCRMS (non-coding RNA in RMS) that has increased expression in the alveolar subtype relative to the embryonal subtype. Multiple alternatively spliced forms of NCRMS were identified through library screening, RACE, and comparison to human expressed sequence tags (ESTs). Northern blot analysis indicated the transcript size to be 1.25 kb in alveolar RMS. There was no sequence homology to any of the known genes in GenBank, but extensive homology to ESTs from various species. Comparison to human genomic sequences identified at least 11 exons mapping to chromosomal region 12q21. Differential expression of NCRMS was noted between various tumor types. Since NCRMS RNA possesses limited potential for protein coding, yet with conserved sequences between different species, it is likely that NCRMS is a functional non-coding RNA. Known genes in its proximity include myogenic regulators Myf5 and Myf6, growth factor Igf1, and another potential differentially expressed gene (ATP2B1) in RMS isolated by RDA.