alpha-Latroinsectotoxin (alpha-LIT), purified from venom glands of the black widow spider Latrodectus mactans tredecimguttatus, is a presynaptic neurotoxin selective only for insects. A cDNA encoding the putative alpha-LIT precursor was isolated from a spider venom gland cDNA library. The cDNA contains a 4236-base-pair open reading frame corresponding to a 157826-Da protein composed of 1411 amino acids. The mature alpha-LIT, with molecular mass approximately 130 kDa, is probably derived from double processing in the N-terminal and C-terminal regions of the primary translation product. The structure region, extending over residues 464-1176, is composed almost entirely of ankyrin-like repeats which represent a motif also found in the alpha-latrotoxin (alpha-LTX), which has selective action on vertebrates. Total alignment of the alpha-LIT and alpha-LTX amino acid sequences reveals an overall similarity of 34.1%. Strong sequence divergence is observed in analogous cysteine-rich regions situated within the ankyrin-repeat domains of both alpha-LIT and alpha-LTX.