3-Ketoacyl-coenzyme A thiolase (thiolase) catalyzes the final step of the fatty acid beta-oxidation pathway in peroxisomes. Thiolase is unique among rat liver peroxisomal enzymes in that it is synthesized as a precursor possessing a 26-amino acid (aa) N-terminal extension which is cleaved to generate the mature enzyme. To facilitate further examination of the synthesis, intracellular transport and processing of this enzyme, cDNA clones were selected from a lambda gt11 rat liver library using antiserum raised against peroxisomal thiolase. Upon sequencing several cDNA clones, it was revealed that there are at least two distinct thiolase enzymes localized to rat liver peroxisomes, one identical to the previously published rat liver peroxisomal thiolase (thiolase 1) [Hijikata et al., J. Biol. Chem. 262 (1987) 8151-8158] and a novel thiolase (thiolase 2). The THL2 cDNA possesses a single open reading frame of 1302 nucleotides (nt) encoding a protein of 434 aa (Mr 44790). The coding region of THL2 cDNA exhibits 94.6% nt sequence identity with THL1 and 95.4% identity at the level of aa sequence. Northern-blot analysis indicates that the mRNA encoding thiolase 2 is approx. 1.7 kb in size. The mRNA encoding thiolase 2 is induced approx. twofold upon treatment of rats with the peroxisome-proliferating drug, clofibrate. In contrast, the thiolase 1 mRNA is induced more than tenfold under similar conditions.