A full length cDNA clone that directs the in vitro synthesis of human histone H2A isoprotein H2A.X has been isolated and sequenced. H2A.X contains 142 amino acid residues, 13 more than human H2A.1. The sequence of the first 120 residues of H2A.X is almost identical to that of human H2A.1. The sequence of the carboxy-terminal 22 residues of H2A.X is unrelated to any known sequence in vertebrate histone H2A; however, it contains a sequence homologous with those of several lower eukaryotes. This homology centers on the carboxy-terminal tetrapeptide which in H2A.X is SerGlnGluTyr. Homologous sequences are found in H2As of three types of yeasts, in Tetrahymena and Drosophila. Seven of the nine carboxy-terminal amino acids of H2A.X are identical with those of S. cerevisiae H2A.1. It is suggested that this H2A carboxy-terminal motif may be present in all eukaryotes. The H2A.X cDNA is 1585 bases long followed by a polyA tail. There are 73 nucleotides in the 5' UTR, 432 in the coding region, and 1080 in the 3' UTR. Even though H2A.X is considered a basal histone, being synthesized in G1 as well as in S-phase, and its mRNA contains polyA addition motifs and a polyA tail, its mRNA also contains the conserved stem-loop and U7 binding sequences involved in the processing and stability of replication type histone mRNAs. Two forms of H2A.X mRNA, consistent with the two sets of processing signals were found in proliferating cell cultures. One, about 1600 bases long, contains polyA; the other, about 575 bases long, lacks polyA. The short form behaves as a replication type histone mRNA, decreasing in amount when cell cultures are incubated with inhibitors of DNA synthesis, while the longer behaves as a basal type histone mRNA.