Genome duplications are believed to have occurred on multiple occasions in vertebrate evolution. Studies of duplicate gene loci in tetraploid animals may reveal important general aspects of gene duplication, an important mode of gene evolution in metazoans. The common carp Cyprinus carpio has twice as many chromosomes as most other cyprinid fishes due to tetraploidization previously estimated to have occurred 50 Myr ago. Our sequence analyses of duplicate carp loci suggest that the tetraploidization took place less than 16 Myr ago. This is further supported by sequence comparisons with the diploid grass carp, which seems to have diverged from the common carp approximately 19 Myr ago. Duplicate loci appear to remain expressed for millions of years and may accumulate mutations leading to drastic amino acid replacements as shown here for somatotropin. Therefore, both loci should always be characterized in molecular studies of tetraploid animals such as goldfish, salmonid fishes, and Xenopus laevis. The long life of duplicate genes may explain the occurrence of numerous large multigene families in higher metazoans.