The hedgehog genes encode signaling molecules that play a role in regulating embryonic morphogenesis. We have cloned and sequenced human cDNA copies of two of these genes, SHH and IHH. The SHH clone includes the full coding sequence and encodes a protein 92.4% identical to its murine homologue. The IHH clone is 89% complete and encodes a protein 94.6% identical to its murine homologue. IHH is expressed in adult kidney and liver. SHH expression was not detected in adult tissues examined; however, it is expressed in fetal intestine, liver, lung, and kidney. SHH mapped to chromosome 7q and IHH to chromosome 2 by PCR with DNA from a panel of rodent-human somatic cell hybrids. To identify the chromosomal location of SHH more precisely, a P1 genomic clone of SHH was isolated. This phage contained a CA repeat sequence tagged site that was used to map SHH relative to a polysyndactyly disease locus, using DNA prepared from affected and unaffected members of a large pedigree. SHH is closely linked, but distinct from the polysyndactyly disease locus at 7q36 (maximum lod score = 4.82, theta = 0.05) tightly linked to the EN2 locus. The murine homologues Shh, Ihh, and Dhh were mapped using (C57BL/6J x Mus spretus)F1 x C57BL/6J interspecific backcross. Shh mapped to a position 0.6 cM distal to En2 and 1.9 cM proximal to Il6 on mouse chromosome 5. This location is closely linked but distinct from the murine limb mutation Hx and syntenic to human chromosome 7q36.