An expression profile of active genes in a human neuroblastoma cell line CHP134 was obtained by collecting 1222 partial sequences from a 3'-directed cDNA library representing a non-biased mRNA population. By comparing this expression profile with the compiled profiles of multiple tissues, several novel gene transcripts that appeared only in the profile of the neuroblastoma cell line were identified. Further analyses by Northern blotting revealed two specific cDNA clones that are expressed in most of the human neuroblastomas examined, and three that are in some of the human neuroblastoma cell lines as well as in the adult human brain. Full-size cDNAs were cloned using these five partial cDNA sequences as probes and sequenced. A database search revealed that they are all novel and unique sequences: one sharing some amino acid sequence similarities with a cytoskeletal protein, two clones likely to be transcriptional factors, a clone that has characteristic potassium channel properties, and a clone that is non-homologous to any one of the known proteins. Thus, we argue that the collection of 3'-directed cDNA sequences in combination with the compiled expression profiles of active genes in multiple tissues is a powerful tool for discovering novel genes that are specifically expressed in a given cell or tissue, in this case neuroblastomas and/or nerve tissue.