Sulfonation is an important pathway in the biotransformation of many drugs, xenobiotics, neurotransmitters, and steroid hormones. The thermostable (TS) form of phenol sulfotransferase (PST) preferentially catalyzes the sulfonation of "simple" planar phenols, and levels of activity of TS PST in human tissues are controlled by inheritance. Two different human liver TS PST cDNAs have been cloned that encode proteins with amino acid sequences that are 96% identical. We have determined the structure and chromosomal localization of the gene for one of these two cDNAs, STP2, as a step toward understanding molecular genetic mechanisms involved in the regulation of this enzyme activity in humans. STP2 spans approximately 5.1 kb and contains nine exons that range in length from 74 to 347 bp. The locations of most STP2 exon-intron splice junctions are identical to those of a gene for the thermolabile form of PST in humans, STM; a rat PST gene; a human estrogen ST (EST) gene, STE; and a guinea pig EST gene. The two initial STP2 exons, IA and IB, were identified by performing 5'-rapid amplification of cDNA ends with human liver cDNA as template. Exons IA and IB are noncoding and represent two different human liver TS PST cDNA 5'-untranslated region sequences. The two apparent 5'-flanking regions of the STP2 gene, regions flanking exons IA and IB, contain no canonical TATA boxes, but do contain CCAAT elements. STP2 was localized to human chromosome 16 by performing the PCR with DNA from NIGMS human/rodent somatic cell hybrids as template. Structural characterization of STP2 will make it possible to begin to study molecular genetic mechanisms involved in the regulation of TS PST activity in human tissue.