The four mouse histone genes (2 H3 genes, an H2b gene and an H2a gene) present in a cloned 12.9 kilobase fragment of DNA have been completely sequenced including both 5' and 3' flanking regions. These genes are expressed in cultured mouse cells and the 3' and 5' ends of the mRNA have been determined by S1 nuclease mapping. These genes code for a minor fraction of the histone mRNAs expressed in cultured mouse cells. They comprise at most 5-8% of the total histone mRNA of each type. The two H3 genes code for H3.2 and H3.1 histone proteins, while the H2b gene codes for an H2b.1 protein with a single amino acid change (val-leu) at position 18. Only the 3' portion of the H2a gene is contained in the clone and there is an amino acid change (alanine-proline) at position 126. Comparison of the 5' and 3' flanking sequences reveals a conserved sequence at the 3' end of the mRNA which forms a hairpin loop structure. The codon usage in the genes is non-random and there has been no discrimination against CG doublets in the coding region of the genes.