Three different cDNAs and a gene encoding human skin mast cell tryptase have been cloned and sequenced in their entirety. The deduced amino acid sequences reveal a 30-amino acid prepropeptide followed by a 245-amino acid catalytic domain. The C-terminal undecapeptide of the human preprosequence is identical in dog tryptase and appears to be part of a prosequence unique among serine proteases. The differences among the three human tryptase catalytic domains include the loss of a consensus N-glycosylation site in one cDNA, which may explain some of the heterogeneity in size and susceptibility to deglycosylation seen in tryptase preparations. All three tryptase cDNAs are distinct from a recently reported cDNA obtained from a human lung mast cell library. A skin tryptase cDNA was used to isolate a human tryptase gene, the exons of which match one of the skin-derived cDNAs. The organization of the approximately 1.8-kilobase-pair tryptase gene is unique and is not closely related to that of any other mast cell or leukocyte serine protease. The 5' regulatory regions of the gene share features with those of other serine proteases, including mast cell chymase, but are unusual in being separated from the protein-coding sequence by an intron. High-stringency hybridization of a human genomic DNA blot with a fragment of the tryptase gene confirms the presence of multiple tryptase genes. These findings provide genetic evidence that human mast cell tryptases are the products of a multigene family.