We determined the origin and evolutionary pathways of the PB1 genes of influenza A viruses responsible for the 1957 and 1968 human pandemics and obtained information on the variable or conserved region of the PB1 protein. The evolutionary tree constructed from nucleotide sequences suggested the following: (i) the PB1 gene of the 1957 human pandemic strain, A/Singapore/1/57 (H2N2), was probably introduced from avian species and was maintained in humans until 1968; (ii) in the 1968 pandemic strain, A/NT/60/68 (H3N2), the PB1 gene was not derived from the previously circulating virus in humans but probably from another avian virus; and (iii) a current human H3N2 virus inherited the PB1 gene from an A/NT/60/68-like virus. Nucleotide sequence analysis also showed that the avian PB1 gene was introduced into pigs. Hence, transmission of the PB1 gene from avian to mammalian species is a relatively frequent event. Comparative analysis of deduced amino acid sequences disclosed highly conserved regions in PB1 proteins, which may be key structures required for PB1 activities.