The Sxr (sex-reversed) region, a fragment of the Y chromosome short arm, can cause chromosomally female XXSxr or XSxrO mice to develop as sterile males. The original Sxr region, termed Sxra, encodes: Tdy, the primary sex-determining gene; Hya, the controlling or structural locus for the minor transplantation antigen H-Y; gene(s) controlling the expression of the serologically detected male antigen (SDMA); Spy, a gene(s) required for the survival and proliferation of A spermatogonia during spermatogenesis; Zfy-1/Zfy-2, zinc-finger-containing genes of unknown function; and Sry, which is probably identical to Tdy. A deletion variant of Sxra, termed Sxrb, which lacks Hya, SDMA expression, Spy and some Zfy-2 sequences, makes positional cloning of these genes possible. We report here the isolation of a new testis-specific gene, Sby, mapping to the DNA deleted from the Sxrb region (the delta Sxrb interval). Sby has extensive homology to the X-linked human ubiquitin-activating enzyme E1. The critical role of this enzyme in nuclear DNA replication together with the testis-specific expression of Sby suggests Sby as a candidate for the spermatogenic gene Spy.