The large neuregulin 1 gene (NRG1) has been mapped to a 1.125 Mb region on chromosome 8p11-21. Three major forms of NRG1 (types I-III), all with distinct amino-termini encoded by unique 5'-exons, have been described. We report here the discovery of nine novel NRG1 exons, including six alternative 5'-exons, increasing the number of potential promoters in NRG1 from three to nine. The novel transcripts of NRG1 described here use the novel 5'-exons which are either coding or non-coding. The functional relevance of the predicted proteins they encode has not been evaluated. Three of the novel 5'-exons are well conserved in syntenic rat and mouse sequences; they encode proteins with novel amino-termini, here termed types IV-VI. NRG1 plays a central role in neural development and is most likely involved in regulation of synaptic plasticity, or how the brain responds or adapts to the environment. The unusually complex gene structure may facilitate spatial and temporal regulation of NRG1 expression, fine-tune NRG1 protein function at different stages during development of the nervous system, and adapt responses to the environment in the adult brain.