We report the isolation and sequence of a human heart cDNA coding for cytochrome c oxidase (COX) subunit VIb (COX VIb). This cDNA extends 50 bp upstream from the region coding for the mature peptide. By Northern analysis, a single transcript of approx. 550 nucleotides (nt) has been identified in six human tissues. Southern analysis of human genomic DNA demonstrates the presence of multiple loci that show high homology to the cDNA. These loci cosegregate with either five or six different human chromosomes in human-rodent somatic cell hybrids. Using the COX6b cDNA, genomic sequences representing two of these loci have been isolated and characterized. The nt sequence analysis suggests that both loci represent COX6b pseudogenes.