A new murine alpha interferon gene, MuIFN-alpha I9, isolated from a BALB/c genomic clone, was characterized. It encodes a mature polypeptide of 167 amino acids (aa), presenting from 77 to 86% homology with the seven other MuIFN-alpha I aa sequences previously described. When compared to the latter, pre-IFN-alpha I9 has 13 distinctive aa, and, remarkably, ten of these occur in pairs. The coding region, fused to the SV40 early promoter and introduced into COS monkey cells, directed the transient secretion of an acid-stable functional IFN of 18-21 kDa. The production in this system reached levels of 300 000 units per 0.15 ml. A comparison of the aa sequence of different murine, rat, bovine, and human alpha and beta IFNs revealed certain common features allowing us to propose a putative secondary structure of the IFN proteins. A detailed analysis of results previously published by us and by others showed that the MuIFN-alpha I9 gene is, together with a least twelve other MuIFN-alpha I genes, located on chromosome 4.