A novel human oncogene, designated vav, was generated by a genetic rearrangement during gene transfer assays. The vav oncogene directs the synthesis of a 3.0 kb mRNA from which we isolated a 2.8 kb-long complementary DNA copy. Nucleotide sequence analysis of this vav oncogene cDNA clone revealed that its 5' 167 bp were derived from pSV2neo DNA cotransfected as a selectable marker during gene transfer. The remaining 2597 bp were unrelated to genes included in current data banks, indicating that the vav oncogene is likely to be derived from a novel human locus. The vav oncogene cDNA clone encompasses a 2391 bp long open reading frame (ORF) capable of directing the synthesis of a 797 amino acid long polypeptide. The predicted vav oncogene protein sequence exhibits several motifs reminiscent of transcriptional factors. They include a highly acidic amino-terminal region separated from two putative nuclear localization signals by a proline-rich sequence, presumably a hinge region. In addition, we identified two zinc-finger-like domains, one of which conforms to the canonical pattern Cys-X2-Cys-X13-Cys-X2-Cys previously found to confer trans-activating activity to the adenovirus E1A protein. Transcription of its normal allele, the vav proto-oncogene, has been exclusively observed in cells of hematopoietic origin, including those of erythroid, lymphoid and myeloid lineages. These findings raise the possibility that this novel locus might play an important role in hematopoiesis.