Many human genes encoding keratin intermediate filament proteins are clustered on chromosomes 17 (the type I genes) and 12 (the type II genes). Some have not yet been localized, notably the genes for the primary embryonic keratins 8 and 18, normally expressed in simple epithelia: this is because the numerous pseudogenes for these keratins have made it difficult to identify the true functional gene in each case. Through the use of human-specific primers from within introns of the published gene sequence for human type I keratin 18, human genomic DNA has been specifically amplified using the polymerase chain reaction. A single reaction product was obtained. DNA from a characterized series of mouse-human somatic cell hybrid lines was tested for the presence of sequences able to initiate the chain reaction from these primers, and the presence or absence of this genomic DNA PCR product allowed us to assign a gene for human keratin 18 to chromosome 12 unambiguously. This differs from the location of other human type I keratins on chromosome 17 and may indicate the early divergence of the genes for stratifying cell keratins from that of simple, or embryonic, keratin 18.