This paper describes the isolation and complete sequence of a novel expressed human beta-tubulin gene (beta 2). The sequence is compared with that of two other expressed human beta-tubulin genes (M40 and 5 beta). All are encoded by four exons. Though the boundaries of each exon are absolutely conserved among the three genes, the intervening sequences differ considerably in size and sequence content. Two of the genes (M40 and 5 beta) contain one (M40) or ten (5 beta) members of the middle repetitive Alu family sequences within one of their intervening sequences. Comparison of the amino acid sequences encoded by each gene reveals a high level of homology overall, though there is significant divergence between the carboxy termini of two of the genes. The pattern of expression of each beta-tubulin gene has been studied in several different human cell lines using unique non-crosshybridizing probes derived from the 3' untranslated regions. Two of the genes, M40 and beta 2, are expressed at varying levels in all of the cell lines examined, though the level of expression of one of these genes parallels the other in most cases. The third gene, 5 beta, is detectably expressed only in cells of neural origin. Thus, distinct human beta-tubulin isotypes are encoded by genes whose exon size and number has been conserved evolutionarily, but whose pattern of expression may be regulated either co-ordinately or uniquely. Of the approximately 15 sequences contained in the human beta-tubulin multigene family, nine have now been sequenced fully. The overall composition of the multigene family and the evolutionary relationships among its various members are discussed.