The human MAGE1 gene directs the expression of an antigen recognized on a melanoma by autologous cytolytic T lymphocytes. MAGE1 belongs to a family of genes that are expressed in a number of tumors of various histological types but not in normal tissues except testis. The MAGE genes are arranged in two groups that are located within two different regions of the human X chromosome (Xq26-qter and Xp21.3). By hybridizing mouse genomic libraries with a MAGE1 probe, we identified three homologous genes. Two of these mouse genes, Smage1 and Smage2, are more than 99% identical to each other and encode the same protein of 330 aa. The 5' noncoding region of Smage2 provides the potential for regulating the expression of the gene through several different promoters located in front of alternative first exons. The third gene, Smage3, has the structure of a processed transcript. It codes for a protein with only 11 aa substitutions with respect to the Smage1/2 product. Somatic cell hybrids and interspecific backcross analysis showed that Smage3 is autosomal and that Smage1 and Smage2 are located between the Dmd and the Ar loci on the mouse X chromosome. Since this region is syntenic to the human Xp21.1-p22.1 region, we conclude that Smage1 and Smage2 are homologous to the MAGE-Xp rather than to the MAGE-Xq genes. Smage1/2 transcripts were detected in several tumor and embryonal cell lines but not in normal mouse tissues with the exception of testis. Expression of Smage3 was found in embryos from Day 11 to Day 15.