Four related genes, Shaker, Shab, Shaw, and Shal, encode voltage-gated K+ channels in Drosophila. Multigene subfamilies corresponding to each of these Drosophila genes have been identified in rodents and primates; this suggests that the four genes are older than the common ancestor of present-day insects and mammals and that the expansion of each into a family occurred before the divergence of rodents and primates. In order to define these evolutionary relationships more precisely and to facilitate the search for mammalian candidate K+ channel gene mutations, we have mapped members of the Shaw-homologous gene family in humans and mice. Fluorescence in situ hybridization analysis of human metaphase chromosomes mapped KCNC2 (KShIIIA, KV3.2) and KCNC3 (KShIIID, KV3.3) to Chromosome (Chr) 19q13.3-q13.4. Inheritance patterns of DNA restriction fragment length variants in recombinant inbred strains of mice placed the homologous mouse genes on distal Chr 10 near Ms15-8 and Mdm-1. The mouse Kcnc1 (KShIIIB, NGK2-KV4, KV3.1) gene mapped to Chr7 near Tam-1. These results are consistent with the hypothesis that the generation of the mammalian KCNC gene family included both duplication events to generate family members in tandem arrays (KCNC2, KCNC3) and dispersion of family members to unlinked chromosomal sites (KCNC1). The KNCN2 and KCNC3 genes define a new synteny group between humans and mice.