A cell line with an increased resistance to alkylating agents and an extremely high level of O6-methylguanine-DNA methyltransferase activity was isolated after transfection of methyltransferase-deficient Mer- cells with a cDNA library, prepared from methyltransferase-proficient human Mer+ (Raji) cells. Sodium dodecyl sulfate/polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis analysis revealed that a protein, with a molecular weight of approximately 25,000, accepted 3H label from DNA that had been treated with [3H]methylnitrosourea. Since the cDNA for methyltransferase was integrated into the chromosomal DNA, it was recovered by using the polymerase chain reaction. When the cDNA placed in an expression vector p500 was introduced into Mer- cells, the cells acquired an increased resistance to alkylating agents and exhibited a high level of O6-methylguanine-DNA methyltransferase activity. From the transformants the cDNA could be recovered as a part of the autonomously replicating plasmid. The nucleotide sequence of the cDNA was determined, and an open reading frame comprising 207 amino acid residues was found. The molecular weight of methyltransferase, calculated from the predicted amino acid sequence, was 21,700. The predicted amino acid sequence of the human methyltransferase exhibits an intensive homology with those of the bacterial counterparts, Ada and Ogt proteins of Escherichia coli and Dat protein of Bacillus subtilis, especially around possible methyl acceptor sites.