We describe nine T cell gamma variable (V) gene segments isolated from human DNA. These genes, which fall into two subgroups, are mapped in two DNA regions covering 54 kb and probably represent the majority of human V gamma genes. One subgroup (V gamma I) contains eight genes, consisting of four active genes and four pseudogenes. The single V gamma II gene is potentially active. Sequence analysis of the V gamma I genes shows variation clustered in hypervariable regions, but somatic variability is restricted to N-region diversity. Studies on rearrangement in T cell lines and in thymic DNA show that major rearrangements can be observed that are attributable to the five active V gamma genes. In addition, human cells with the phenotype of helper T cells can undergo productive V gamma-J gamma joining.