We have characterized overlapping cDNA clones encoding cGMP phosphodiesterase (PDE) alpha- and beta-subunits of mouse retinal rod photoreceptors. The open reading frames predict an alpha-subunit of 100 kDa (856 residues), and a beta-subunit of 99 kDa (853 residues). Sequence analysis of two of twelve beta-subunit clones predicts the presence in the retina of an additional PDE, termed beta', which is generated by alternative splicing of the beta-subunit gene. beta' differs from beta only at the C-terminus being 55 residues shorter and lacking the Caax motif found at the C-termini of both the alpha- and beta-subunits. A 300 residue segment thought to contain the active site is present in the C-terminal half of alpha, beta and beta'.