A cDNA library has been constructed from an RNA preparation highly enriched in silkmoth chorion mRNAs. Many distinct clones have been identified from this library using a stepwise procedure: scoring for infrequent hexanucleotide restriction enzyme recognition sequences; detailed characterization with restriction enzymes that recognize relatively frequent tetranucleotide sequences; probing the arrangement of the corresponding sequences in chromosomal DNA by the Southern procedure; and detailed cross-hybridization analysis. Unique clones, as well as two classes of distinct but related clones, were revealed by hybridization. The cross-hybridization analysis was greatly facilitated by a newly developed, semiquantitative dot hybridization procedure. The same procedure made it feasible to conveniently estimate the relative abundance of several different sequences in an mRNA mixture. Cloned sequences which scored as relatively abundant in total chorion mRNA were tested with stage-specific chorion mRNA at a very stringent criterion of hybridization. They were thus characterized as early, middle or late sequences with respect to development. The characterized cDNA clones can now be used as probes for studying the evolution, chromosomal organization and regulated developmental expression of the chorion multigene families.