Knowledge of the structures of the activin receptor genes is crucial to our understanding of the role of the activins, inhibins, and their receptors in developmental and physiological processes. The type II activin receptor (ActRc) has been shown to be a transmembrane protein with putative serine/threonine kinase activity. Using a human ActRc type II cDNA as a probe, 18 overlapping lambda clones containing portions of the mouse ActRc type II gene were isolated from a mouse 129SvE genomic library. Sequence analysis of the exons, exon-intron boundaries, and 5' and 3' non-translated regions as well as Southern blot analysis of mouse genomic DNA were used to establish the structure of the mouse ActRc type II gene. The mouse ActRc type II gene is encoded by 11 exons and spans greater than 66 kilobases. Two large introns (introns 1 and 4) contribute the majority of the gene size and are found to delineate exons which encode important domains of the activin receptor. Analysis of the 5' region of the gene reveals several putative transcription factor binding sites which may be important for the complex transcriptional regulation of this gene.