PGC1 alpha is a co-activator involved in adaptive thermogenesis, fatty-acid oxidation and gluconeogenesis. We describe the identification of several isoforms of a new human PGC1 alpha homologue, cloned independently and named PGC1 beta. The human PGC1 beta gene is localized to chromosome 5, has 13 exons and spans more than 78 kb. Two different 5' and 3' ends due to differential splicing were identified by rapid amplification of cDNA ends PCR and screening of human cDNA libraries. We show that PGC1 beta variants in humans, mice and rats are expressed predominantly in heart, brown adipose tissue, brain and skeletal muscle. PGC1 beta expression, unlike PGC1 alpha, is not up-regulated in brown adipose tissue in response to cold or obesity. Fasting experiments showed that PGC1 alpha, but not PGC1 beta, is induced in liver and this suggests that only PGC1 alpha is involved in the hepatic gluconeogenesis. No changes in PGC1 beta gene expression were observed associated with exercise. Human PGC1 beta-1a and -2a isoforms localized to the cell nucleus and, specifically, the isoform PGC1 beta-1a co-activated peroxisome-proliferator-activated receptor-gamma, -alpha and the thyroid hormone receptor beta1. Finally, we show that ectopic expression PGC1 beta leads to increased mitochondrial number and basal oxygen consumption. These results suggest that PGC1 beta may play a role in constitutive adrenergic-independent mitochondrial biogenesis.