Cloned cDNAs for human liver serine-pyruvate aminotransferase (Ser-PyrAT) were obtained by screening of a human liver cDNA library with a fragment of cDNA for rat mitochondrial Ser-PyrAT as a probe. Two clones were isolated from 50,000 transformants. Both clones contained approximately 1.5 kb cDNA inserts and were shown to almost completely overlap each other on restriction enzyme mapping and DNA sequencing. The nucleotide sequence of the mRNA coding for human liver Ser-PyrAT was determined from those of the cDNA clones. The mRNA comprises at least 1487 nucleotides, and encodes a polypeptide consisting of 392 amino acid residues with a molecular mass of 43,039 Da. The amino acid composition determined on acid hydrolysis of the purified enzyme showed good agreement with that deduced from the nucleotide sequence of the cDNA. In vitro translation of the mRNA derived from one of the isolated clones, pHspt12, as well as that of mRNA extracted from human liver, yielded a product of 43 kDa which reacted with rabbit anti-(rat mitochondrial Ser-PyrAT) serum. Comparison of the deduced amino acid sequences of human Ser-PyrAT and the mature form of rat mitochondrial Ser-PyrAT revealed 79.3% identity. Although human Ser-PyrAT appears to be synthesized as the mature size, the 5'-noncoding region of human Ser-PyrAT mRNA contains a nucleotide sequence which would encode, if translated, an amino acid sequence similar to that of the N-terminal extension peptide of the precursor for rat mitochondrial Ser-PyrAT.