Heterotrimeric guanine nucleotide binding proteins (G proteins) transduce extracellular signals received by transmembrane receptors to effector proteins. The multigene family of G protein alpha subunits, which interact with receptors and effectors, exhibit a high level of sequence diversity. In mammals, 15 G alpha subunit genes can be grouped by sequence and functional similarities into four classes. We have determined the murine chromosomal locations of all 15 G alpha subunit genes using an interspecific backcross derived from crosses of C57BL/6J and Mus spretus mice. These data, in combination with mapping studies in humans, have provided insight into the events responsible for generating the genetic diversity found in the mammalian alpha subunit genes and a framework for elucidating the role of the G alpha subunits in disease.