The expression of human bcl-2 gene is de-regulated by t(14;18) translocation in most of follicular lymphoma. Recent studies indicated that the bcl-2 gene product has an ability to block apoptosis of hematopoietic cells. To facilitate the analysis of the role of this gene in normal development using an animal model, we have isolated and partially characterized the chicken homologue of human bcl-2 gene. The analysis of nucleotide sequence showed that the organization of the chicken bcl-2 gene is very similar to that of human bcl-2 gene. The primary transcript is spliced to encode a 25,687 dalton (233 a.a.) protein. The chicken Bcl-2 protein has two regions highly homologous to human Bcl-2 protein surrounding a totally non-homologous region. The expression of the chicken bcl-2 gene was analyzed in various chicken tissues. In the adult chicken, bcl-2 transcripts were detected in thymus, spleen, kidney, heart, ovary and brain, with the highest levels being detected in the thymus. However, the bursa of Fabricius, which is the site of early B cell development, expressed much less amounts of bcl-2 RNA. On the other hand, in embryo, the gene is extensively expressed in the bursa, as well as in muscle and the above tissues. Our findings indicate that a homologue of the human bcl-2 gene does exist in the chicken and that its expression is developmentally regulated in some tissues.