The region-specific homeotic gene spalt (sal) of Drosophila specifies head and tail as opposed to trunk segments. During later stages of ontogenesis, sal is also expressed and required in a small number of tissues and organs in the developing embryo. sal encodes a zinc finger protein of unusual but characteristic structure. We made use of these unique features to isolate sal-like genes from humans. Here we report the isolation and molecular characterization of two sal-like transcription units, termed Hsal1 and Hsal2, which are located on chromosomes 16q12.1 and 14q11.1-q12.1, respectively. Their transcripts are expressed in a limited number of adult organs, including the brain. While Hsal2 is evenly expressed in different brain areas, Hsal1 transcripts preferentially accumulate in the corpus callosum and the substantia nigra. In the fetal brain, transcripts of both genes were detected in neurons. The arrangement of sal-like zinc finger domains and their high degree of sequence similarity suggest a novel and conserved subfamily of human zinc finger transcription factors that is closely related to the Drosophila gene product encoded by the gene sal.