Aminopeptidase B (APB) is a Zn(2+)-metalloexopeptidase, which selectively removes Arg and/or Lys residues from the N-terminus of several peptide substrates. Several data strongly support the hypothesis that this enzyme could participate in the final stages of precursor processing mechanisms and/or in particular inflammatory processes and tumor developments. Therefore, we have cloned the complementary DNA encoding the human APB, a 658-residues protein, containing the canonical "HEXXH(X(18))E", a signature allowing its classification in the M1 family of metallopeptidases. The genomic structure of the human APB gene (rnpep; 1q32.1-q32.2) was also determined. rnpep is bracketed by pre-protein translocase of the inner mitochondrial membrane gene and ETS family transcription factor ELF3 gene. It spans more than 24 kbp and contains 11 exons ranging from 109 to 574 bp. Finally, expression of the human APB messenger RNA (mRNA) was investigated using a pre-made dot-blot. This mRNA seems to be ubiquitous although its expression level varies depending of the cells or tissues considered.