Two Yeast Artificial Chromosomes (YACs) were isolated each with a full-length copy of the human gene that encodes the trifunctional protein containing phosphoribosylglycinamide synthetase (GARS), phosphoribosylglycinamide formyltransferase (GART) and phosphoribosylaminoimidazole synthetase (AIRS). The YACs were characterized by restriction mapping and by in situ hybridization of cosmid subclones containing the YAC ends to human metaphase chromosomes. One of the YACs contains co-cloned non-contiguous DNA whereas the other appears to have a single 600 kbp insert from 21q22.1, the location of the GART gene. A restriction map of the gene was obtained from two cosmid subclones which together span the 40 kb gene. The gene is functional when YAC DNA is transferred into GARS- or GARS-and-AIRS-deficient Chinese Hamster Ovary cells. The gene transfer was carried out both by lipofection using purified yeast DNA and by fusion between yeast spheroplasts and the hamster cells. Restriction analysis of DNA from cell lines whose purine auxotrophy was complemented by the YAC showed that with either method a complete and unrearranged copy of the gene can be transferred. The majority of the fusion cell lines appear to contain at least 80% of the YAC.