The major human plasma protease inhibitors, alpha(1)-antitrypsin and alpha(1)-antichymotrypsin, are each encoded by a single gene, whereas in the mouse they are represented by clusters of 5 and 14 genes, respectively. Although there is a high degree of overall sequence similarity within these groupings, the reactive-center loop (RCL) domain, which determines target protease specificity, is markedly divergent. The literature dealing with members of these mouse serine protease inhibitor (serpin) clusters has been complicated by inconsistent nomenclature. Furthermore, some investigators, unaware of the complexity of the family, have failed to distinguish between closely related genes when measuring expression levels or functional activity. We have reviewed the literature dealing with the mouse equivalents of human alpha(1)-antitrypsin and alpha(1)-antichymotrypsin and made use of the recently completed mouse genome sequence to propose a systematic nomenclature. We have also examined the extended mouse clade "a" serpin cluster at chromosome 12F1 and compared it with the syntenic region at human chromosome 14q32. In summarizing the literature and suggesting a standardized nomenclature, we aim to provide a logical structure on which future research may be based.