F1-ATPase is the major enzyme for ATP synthesis, and its beta subunit is the catalytic site. To date, no full-length cDNA for the eukaryotic F1 gene has been reported. Human F1 was studied because of its importance in medicine and cell biology. Here we report molecular cloning of a full-length cDNA for the human F1 beta subunit and purification of the human F1 beta subunit. The HeLa cell cDNA library constructed in an expression vector gamma gt11 was screened with antiserum against the yeast F1 beta subunit. One of the positive phage DNAs containing the human F1 beta gene and its flanking regions (1.8 kilobase pairs) was sequenced by the dideoxy chain termination method. The open reading frame started from a putative signal presequence, which was rich in both serine and arginine. There was a homologous segment in the signal presequence of human ornithine transcarbamoylase and that of F1 beta. The precursor of F1 beta was expressed in E. coli harboring a plasmid which had been constructed with T5 promotor and the F1 beta cDNA. Both the precursor and mature form of F1 beta were detected in HeLa cells in a pulse-chase experiment. The amino acid sequence of 480 residues (51,568.3 daltons) following the presequence was highly homologous with that of mature beef heart F1 beta (97.5%) and E. coli F1 beta (71.7%), but the codon usage in the human gene was very different from those of reported genes coding for F1 beta of other species.