Neuronal cells express a pp60c-src variant that displays an altered electrophoretic mobility and a different V8 peptide pattern relative to pp60c-src expressed in tissues of non-neuronal origin. To determine whether the neuronal form of pp60c-src is encoded by a brain-specific messenger RNA, a mouse brain complementary DNA (cDNA) library was screened with a chicken c-src probe and a 3.8-kilobase c-src cDNA clone was isolated. This clone encodes a 60-kilodalton protein that differs from chicken or human pp60c-src primarily in having six extra amino acids (Arg-Lys-Val-Asp-Val-Arg) within the NH2-terminal 16 kilodaltons of the molecule. S1 nuclease protection analysis confirmed that brain c-src RNA contains an 18-nucleotide insertion at the position of the extra six amino acids. This insertion occurs at a position that corresponds to a splice junction in the chicken and human c-src genes. The isolated c-src cDNA clone encodes a protein that displays an identical V8 peptide pattern to that observed in pp60c-src isolated from tissues of neuronal origin.