A cDNA containing coding information for buforin I, the toad stomach antimicrobial peptide, was identified by PCR. The cloned cDNA encoded a protein of 129 amino acids whose 39-amino-acid N-terminus was identical to buforin I. Nucleotide sequence analysis of the cloned cDNA revealed that it had over 90% amino acid homology with histone H2A, the replication-dependent protein. Both Northern and Southern blot analysis of the toad genome suggested that histone H2A and buforin I were encoded by the same gene. A specific protease responsible for the generation of buforin I from histone H2A was found to be present in the crude extracts of the toad stomach. These results suggest that there exists a specific regulation mechanism which converts the toad histone H2A to the antimicrobial peptide buforin I.