In mammals, a multitude of studies have shown that anti-Müllerian hormone (AMH/AMH), apart from inducing Müllerian duct regression during male sexual differentiation, exerts inhibitory effects on male and female gonadal steroidogenesis and differentiation. However, in lower vertebrates like teleost fish, the function of AMH/AMH has been far less explored. As a first step to unravel its potential role in reproduction in teleost fish, we isolated and characterised the AMH gene in the European sea bass (sb), Dicentrachus labrax, determined putative regulatory elements of its 5'-flanking region, and analysed its gene expression and those of alternatively-spliced transcripts. The characterisation of sb-AMH revealed distinct features that distinguishes it from mammalian and bird AMH, suggesting a high rate of diversification of AMH during vertebrate evolution. It contained 7 exons that were divided by 6 introns, of which the last intron (intron vi) was localised only a few nucleotides upstream of the putative peptide cleavage site. The guanine and cytosine content of the open reading frame (ORF) was 52.7% and thus notably lower than that of bird and mammalian AMH. Sb-AMH cDNA was 2045 base pairs (bp) long, containing an ORF of 1599 bp encoding 533 amino acids. Deduced amino acid similarities of the conserved, carboxyterminal domain were highest with AMH in Japanese flounder (84.2%) and lowest with chicken AMH (45.5%). In the proximal promoter sequence of sb-AMH, a steroidogenic factor-1 (SF-1) binding site was present; however other regulatory sequences essential for transcriptional activation of AMH in mammals were absent. Likewise, there was no sequence homology to an SF3A2 sequence within the first 3200 bp upstream of the sb-AMH translation start site. Gene expression of sb-AMH and of alternatively-spliced sb-AMH transcripts were analysed in male and female juvenile and adult gonads as well as in somatic tissues of juvenile males. sb-AMH expression was highest in juvenile testis, but still remarkably high in juvenile ovaries and adult testis, as well as in brain, pituitary, and heart of juvenile male sea bass. Apart from adult ovary, levels of alternatively-spliced sb-AMHexonII/-99 were marginal in comparison with sb-AMH. In contrast, the transcript variant sb-AMHexonVII/+5 was expressed to a similar extent as sb-AMH in all tissues examined. The results of this work have provided the basis for future studies concerning the regulation and function of AMH/AMH in this species.