A murine multigene family has been identified that shares a conserved sequence motif, the paired box, with developmental control and tissue-specific genes of Drosophila. To date five murine paired box-containing genes (Pax genes) have been described and one, Pax-1, has been associated with the developmental mutant phenotype undulated. Here we describe the paired boxes of three novel Pax genes, Pax-4, Pax-5, and Pax-6. Comparison of the eight murine paired domains of the mouse, the five Drosophila paired domains, and the three human paired domains shows that they fall into six distinct classes: class I comprises Pox meso, Pax-1, and HuP48; class II paired, gooseberry-proximal, gooseberry-distal, Pax-3, Pax-7, HuP1, and HuP2; class III Pax-2, Pax-5, and Pax-8; class IV Pax-4; class V Pox neuro; and class VI Pax-6. Pax-1 and the human gene HuP48 have identical paired domains, as do Pax-3 and HuP2 as well as Pax-7 and HuP1, and are likely to represent homologous genes in mouse and man. Identical intron-exon structure and extensive sequence homology of their paired boxes suggest that several Pax genes represent paralogs. The chromosomal location of all novel Pax genes and of Pax-3 and Pax-7 has been determined and reveals that they are not clustered.