The collagen (Col)-encoding gene family in the nematode, Caenorhabditis elegans, consists of 50-150 members. We have undertaken studies of these genes as part of the analysis of the assembly of the cuticle, the nematode's exoskeleton. We present here the complete nucleotide and deduced amino acid sequences of the col-36 and col-40 genes, both located on chromosome II and encoding cuticle Col. Both Col possess the structural properties found in the type of Col that form the cuticle, such as short Gly-Xaa-Yaa interruptions and Cys clusters at conserved sites. On the basis of identical patterns of conserved cysteines, col-36 and col-40 belong to the col-6 cuticle Col family. Semi-quantitative analysis using reverse transcription-PCR demonstrates that the col-36 transcript is present in L1 larvae and at the L1-L2 and L2d-dauer molts. The col-40 transcript is present in L1 larvae and at the L2d-dauer molt. Different members of the col-6 family are structurally related, but have different developmental expression patterns.