Receptor tyrosine kinases (RTK) with five, three, or seven immunoglobulinlike domains in their extracellular regions are classified as subclasses III, IV, and V, respectively. Conservation of the exon/intron structure of the downstream part of the human KIT, FMS, and FLT3 genes that encode RTK of subclass III together with the particular chromosomal localization of these genes suggests that RTKIII genes have evolved from a common ancestor by cis and trans duplications. To strengthen this model of evolution and to determine if it can be extended to RTKIV and V genes, we constructed a phylogenetic tree of RTKIII, IV, and V on the basis of a multiple alignment of their catalytic tyrosine kinase domain sequences and determined the exon/intron structure of PDGFRA (subclass III), FGFR4 (subclass IV), and FLT4 (subclass V) genes in their downstream part. Phylogenetic analyses with amino acid or nucleotide sequences both resulted in one most parsimonious tree. The phylogenetic trees obtained indicate that all three subclasses are well individuated and that RTKIII and RTKV are closer to each other than RTKIV. Furthermore, RTKIII and FLT4 (subclass V) genes possess the same exon/intron structure in their downstream part while the structure of the RTKIV genes is very similar to that of RTKIII and FLT4. Both approaches are in complete agreement and indicate that RTKIII, IV, and V genes most probably evolved from a common ancestor already "in pieces" by successive duplications involving entire genes.