The BAX gene is a member of the Bcl-2 gene family; it encodes a 21-kDa protein whose association with Bcl-2 is believed to play a critical role in regulating apoptosis. Through analysis of human-hamster somatic cell hybrid DNA and by in situ hybridization to metaphase chromosomes, we have determined that the human BAX gene is located in the q13.3-q13.4 region of human chromosome 19. We have also isolated a BAX cDNA clone in which that part of the mRNA encoded by exon 3 is absent. The skipping of exon 3 and the resultant splicing of exons 2 and 4 maintains the original reading frame and predicts the existence of an interstitially truncated form of the major Bax protein (Bax alpha), termed Bax delta. Unlike two previously described variant forms of Bax alpha (Bax beta and Bax tau), Bax delta retains the functionally critical C-terminal membrane anchor region as well as the Bcl-2 homology 1 and 2 (BH1 and BH2) domains.