We have identified a new family of ras genes, the rho genes, which share several properties with the more classical ras gene family consisting of N-, K-, and H-ras. The rho genes, first isolated from a cDNA library from the abdominal ganglia of Aplysia, encode proteins that share 35% amino acid homology with H-ras. Evolutionarily conserved counterparts of rho have been detected in yeast, in Drosophila, in rat, and in man. Sequence analysis reveals over 85% homology between the human and Aplysia proteins. The ras and rho gene products share several common properties; both are 21,000 daltons, both reveal C-terminal sequences required for membrane attachment, and both show blocks of strong internal homology, suggesting that the two proteins may share common functions but may use these functions in different ways.