We have isolated the murine Limk1 gene, which is a single copy gene located at the distal end of mouse chromosome 5. Limk1 exhibits a 95% homology to the human homologue, LIMK, which contains two LIM domains and a putative protein kinase domain. Although Limk1 and LIMK contain all motifs found in catalytic kinase domains, amino acids previously described to be diagnostic of either serine/threonine- or tyrosine-kinases are not present. It is demonstrated that GST-Limk1-fusion protein can autophosphorylate on serine, tyrosine and threonine residues in vitro and that mutation of residue D460 within the IHRDL motif abolishes kinase activity. Northern blot showed preferential expression of a 3.5 kb message in adult spinal cord and brain. In situ hybridisation confirmed high expression levels in the nervous system, particularly in the spinal cord and the cranial nerve and dorsal root ganglia. Limk1 also contains two tandem LIM-domains. These zinc-finger like domains can mediate protein-protein interactions and have been described in nuclear and cytoskeletal proteins. The combination of LIM- and kinase domains may provide a novel route by which intracellular signalling can be integrated.