Relaxin is a peptide hormone synthesized in the corpora lutea of ovaries during pregnancy and is released into the blood stream prior to parturition. Its major biological effect is to remodel the mammalian reproductive tract to facilitate the birth process. Determination of the structure of human relaxin is thus a first step in opening up the possibility of clinical intervention in cases of difficult labour. However, the limited availability of human ovaries during pregnancy has prevented both direct amino acid sequence determination and isolation of cDNA clones obtained from relaxin producing tissue. Our approach has therefore been to screen directly for a human relaxin gene using an homologous porcine relaxin cDNA probe. We report here the successful identification of a genomic clone from which the structure of the entire coding region of a human preprorelaxin gene has been determined. Synthesis of biologically active relaxin has shown that the novel gene structure described herein codes for an authentic human relaxin. We believe this is the first successful synthesis of a biologically active hormone whose structure was predicted solely from the structure of a genomic clone.