Nuclear lamins are intermediate-filament-type proteins forming a fibrillar meshwork underlying the inner nuclear membrane. The existence of multiple isoforms of lamin proteins in vertebrates is believed to reflect functional specializations during cell division and differentiation. Although biochemical criteria may be used to classify many lamin isoforms into A- and B-type subfamilies, the structural features distinguishing the members of these subfamilies remain to be characterized fully. Here, we report the complete primary structures of chicken lamins A and B1, as they are deduced from cloned cDNAs; in the accompanying paper we present the complete sequence of lamin B2, a second avian B-type lamin. Comparisons of the chicken lamin sequences with each other and with those of other lamins allow us to establish structural features that are common to members of both subfamilies. Conversely, multiple sequence alignments make it possible to identify a number of structural motifs that clearly differentiate B-type lamins from A-type lamins. With this information at hand, we attempt to correlate different biochemical properties of A- and B-type lamins with the presence or absence of specific sequence motifs.