We have isolated cDNA clones encoding dihydropyrimidinase (DHPase) from human liver and its three homologues from human fetal brain. The deduced amino acid (aa) sequence of human DHPase showed 90% identity with that of rat DHPase, and the three homologues showed 57-59% aa identity with human DHPase, and 74-77% aa identity with each other. We tentatively termed these homologues human DHPase related protein (DRP)-1, DRP-2 and DRP-3. Human DRP-2 showed 98% aa identity with chicken CRMP-62 (collapsin response mediator protein of relative molecular mass of 62 kDa) which is involved in neuronal growth cone collapse. Human DRP-3 showed 94-100% aa identity with two partial peptide sequences of rat TOAD-64 (turned on after division, 64 kDa) which is specifically expressed in postmitotic neurons. Human DHPase and DRPs showed a lower degree of aa sequence identity with Bacillus stearothermophilus hydantoinase (39-42%) and Caenorhabditis elegans unc-33 (32-34%). Thus we describe a novel gene family which displays differential tissue distribution: i.e., human DHPase, in liver and kidney; human DRP-1, in brain; human DRP-2, ubiquitously expressed except for liver; human DRP-3, mainly in heart and skeletal muscle.