We recently identified a novel human protein kinase, p160 ROCK, as a putative downstream target of the small GTPase Rho. Using the human ROCK cDNA as a probe, we isolated cDNA of two distinct, highly related sequences from mouse libraries. One encoded a mouse counterpart of human ROCK (ROCK-I), and the other encoded a novel ROCK-related kinase (ROCK-II). Like ROCK/ROCK-I, ROCK-II also bound to GTP-Rho selectively. ROCK-I mRNA was ubiquitously expressed except in the brain and muscle, whereas ROCK-II mRNA was expressed abundantly in the brain, muscle, heart, lung and placenta. These results suggest that at least two ROCK isoforms are present in a single species and play distinct roles in Rho-mediated signalling pathways.