Using a human interferon-alpha probe we have isolated recombinant phages containing murine interferon-alpha (Mu IFN-alpha) genes from a genomic library. One of these phages contained two complete Mu IFN-alpha genes and part of a third gene. The insert of a second phage held two IFN genes. This indicates that the Mu IFN-alpha genes are clustered in the genome as is the case for the analogous human genes. The nucleotide sequences of these 5 genes were determined. They show that the genes are all different, albeit highly homologous. The deduced amino acid sequences show that four of the five genes contain a putative glycosylation site. Three genes were transiently expressed in COS cells and they gave rise to protein products showing antiviral properties. The expression of the five Mu IFN-alpha genes and the Mu IFN-beta gene was studied in virus-induced mouse L cells. The individual mRNAs were visualized in a nuclease S1 experiment, using a specific probe for each gene. In RNA preparations from induced cells mRNAs for each of the five alpha genes and the beta gene were present. However, substantial differences in the amounts of the individual mRNAs were observed.