The 5S RNA genes (5S genes) in N. crassa are not tandemly arranged or tightly clustered as in other eucaryotes that have been examined. 55 RNA or cloned 5S DNA hybridizes to at least 30 different restriction fragments of Neurospora DNA. Of 34 5S DNA clones examined, each contains a single 5S gene. Saturation hybridization analyses indicate that there are about 100 copies of 5S genes in the genome of this organism. We have partially or completely sequenced the 5S region of 15 clones. Both identical and highly divergent 5S coding regions were found. Nine are of one type (alpha). The other six include four different types (beta, beta', gamma and delta) which differ from each other and from the alpha genes to various degrees. Eleven of 15 genes have distinct flanking regions. Analysis of Neurospora 5S RNA showed that it consists of one principal species which matches the alpha-type gene sequence. Additional 5S species corresponding to the less abundant 5S gene types were also detected. The pattern of nucleotide substitutions between the predicted Neurospora 5S RNAs and between these and S. cerevisiae 5S RNA suggests that a particular 5S RNA secondary structure occurs in vivo and is conserved.