We have used low stringency hybridization and polymerase chain reaction (PCR) amplification with degenerate oligonucleotides to identify four new members of the rat connexin gene family. On the basis of their predicted molecular mass, these proteins have been designated connexin (Cx) 40 (Cx40), Cx37, Cx33, and Cx31.1. The new connexins exhibit all of the conserved structural features of the connexin family, including highly similar extracellular and transmembrane domains but divergent major cytoplasmic domains. On the basis of primary sequence similarity, the connexin family may be divided into two classes. Cx40, Cx37, and Cx33 are similar to the previously characterized Cx43 and Cx46. Cx31.1 is similar to Cx26, Cx31, and Cx32. Cx37 and Cx40 mRNAs are expressed in a wide variety of adult organs and tissues, with particular abundance in lung. However, their relative levels are different in many organs and thus their distribution is not completely coincident. Cx33 and Cx31.1 genes exhibit a much more restricted pattern of expression; mRNAs are detected only in testes and skin, respectively. Chromosomal mapping studies indicate that Cx26 and Cx46 are tightly linked on chromosome 14, and Cx37 and Cx31.1 are linked on chromosome 4, while the rest of the connexin genes are dispersed.