To study the regulation of the immune genes in insects, we have cloned and sequenced the attacin gene locus of the giant silk moth Hyalophora cecropia. The locus contains one acidic and one basic attacin gene as well as two pseudogenes, which are remnants of basic attacin genes. A small insertion element was found within the locus. The two functional attacin genes are transcribed in opposite directions and have two introns inserted at homologous positions. A common sequence, GGGGATTCCT, is found at nucleotide position -48 in the acidic gene and at nucleotide position -58 in the basic gene. Interestingly, this decanucleotide is similar to the consensus of the NF-k B-binding site. Expression studies revealed that both attacins are strongly induced by phorbol 12-myristate 13-acetate, lipopolysaccharide and bacteria. However, only the acidic attacin gene showed a clear response to injury.