The 'motor' proteins of eukaryotic cells contain specialized domains that hydrolyse ATP to produce force and movement along a cytoskeletal polymer (actin in the case of the myosin family; microtubules in the case of the kinesin family and dyneins). There are motor-protein superfamilies in which each member has a conserved force-generating domain joined to a different 'tail' which conveys specific attachment properties. The minus-end-directed microtubule motors, the dyneins, may also constitute a superfamily of force-generating proteins with distinct attachment domains. Axonemal outer-arm dynein from sea urchin spermatozoa is a multimeric protein consisting of two heavy chains (alpha and beta) with ATPase activity, three intermediate chains and several light chains. Here I report the sequence of cloned complementary DNA encoding the beta heavy chain of a dynein motor molecule. The predicted amino-acid sequence reveals four ATP-binding consensus sequences in the central domain. The dynein beta heavy chain is thought to associate transiently with a microtubule during ATP hydrolysis, but the ATP-dependent microtubule-binding sequence common to the kinesin superfamily is not found in the dynein beta heavy chain. These unique features distinguish the dynein beta heavy chain from other motor protein superfamilies and may be characteristic of the dynein superfamily.