Cystathionine gamma-lyase (CSE) is the last key enzyme in the trans-sulphuration pathway for biosynthesis of cysteine from methionine. Cysteine could be provided through diet; however, CSE has been shown to be important for the adequate supply of cysteine to synthesize glutathione, a major intracellular antioxidant. With a view to determining physiological roles of CSE in mice, we report the sequence of a complete mouse CSE cDNA along with its associated genomic structure, generation of specific polyclonal antibodies, and the tissue distribution and developmental expression patterns of CSE in mice. A 1.8 kb full-length cDNA containing an open reading frame of 1197 bp, which encodes a 43.6 kDa protein, was isolated from adult mouse kidney. A 35 kb mouse genomic fragment was obtained by lambda genomic library screening. It contained promoter regions, 12 exons, ranging in size from 53 to 579 bp, spanning over 30 kb, and exon/intron boundaries that were conserved with rat and human CSE. The GC-rich core promoter contained canonical TATA and CAAT motifs, and several transcription factor-binding consensus sequences. The CSE transcript, protein and enzymic activity were detected in liver, kidney, and, at much lower levels, in small intestine and stomach of both rats and mice. In developing mouse liver and kidney, the expression levels of CSE protein and activity gradually increased with age until reaching their peak value at 3 weeks of age, following which the expression levels in liver remained constant, whereas those in kidney decreased significantly. Immunohistochemical analyses revealed predominant CSE expression in hepatocytes and kidney cortical tubuli. These results suggest important physiological roles for CSE in mice.