Genomic DNA fragments bearing proline-rich protein (PRP) genes expressed specifically in hamster parotid glands have been isolated and characterized. Complete exonic sequences as well as intronic and a considerable portion of the flanking sequences are reported for a PRP gene, H29. H29 is interrupted by three intervening sequences, with consensus splice junctions, and it likely encodes the acidic hamster PRP Hp43a. Exceedingly high homology of the 5'-untranslated region and the sequence encoding the signal peptide is observed with other PRPs of all species studied. Significant homology was also detected among the repetitive sequences of the mature acidic PRPs from human, mouse, hamster, and rat. This conservation of the internal repeats of the PRPs suggested that proline-rich protein gene evolution involved intragenic duplication of internal repeats and gene duplication and conversion. Both hamster and mouse PRP genes (H29 and mouse proline-rich protein gene, respectively) share considerable sequence similarity in the 5'-flanking regions for about 100 base pairs upstream. The remainder of the upstream sequences were heterologous except for three oligonucleotide regions with 60-70% sequence conservation. These three regions are thought to be involved in the regulation of the tissue-specific PRP gene induction.