Casein kinase II is a widely distributed protein serine/threonine kinase. The holoenzyme appears to be a tetramer, containing two alpha or alpha' subunits (or one of each) and two beta subunits. Complementary DNA clones encoding the subunits of casein kinase II were isolated from a human T-cell lambda gt10 library using cDNA clones isolated from Drosophila melanogaster [Saxena et al. (1987) Mol. Cell. Biol. 7, 3409-3417]. One of the human cDNA clones (hT4.1) was 2.2 kb long, including a coding region of 1176 bp preceded by 156 bp (5' untranslated region) and followed by 871 bp (3' untranslated region). The hT4.1 clone was nearly identical in size and sequence with a cDNA clone from HepG2 human hepatoma cultured cells [Meisner et al. (1989) Biochemistry 28, 4072-4076]. Another of the human T-cell cDNA clones (hT9.1) was 1.8 kb long, containing a coding region of 1053 bp preceded by 171 bp (5' untranslated region) and followed by 550 bp (3' untranslated region). Amino acid sequences deduced from these two cDNA clones were about 85% identical. Most of the difference between the two encoded polypeptides was in the carboxy-terminal region, but heterogeneity was distributed throughout the molecules. Partial amino acid sequence was determined in a mixture of alpha and alpha' subunits from bovine lung casein kinase II. The bovine sequences aligned with the 2 human cDNA-encoded polypeptides with only 2 discrepancies out of 535 amino acid positions. This confirmed that the two human T-cell cDNA clones encoded the alpha and alpha' subunits of casein kinase II. Microsequence data determined from separated preparations of bovine casein kinase II alpha subunit and alpha' subunit [Litchfield et al. (1990) J. Biol. Chem. 265, 7638-7644] confirmed that hT4.1 encoded the alpha subunit and hT9.1 encoded the alpha' subunit. These studies show that there are two distinct catalytic subunits for casein kinase II (alpha and alpha') and that the sequence of these subunits is largely conserved between the bovine and the human.