Tubby, an autosomal recessive mutation, mapping to mouse chromosome 7, was recently found to be the result of a splicing defect in a novel gene with unknown function. Database searches revealed that sequences corresponding to the C terminus of the tub protein were highly conserved across a number of species including humans, mice, Caenorhabditis elegans, Arabidopsis, rice, and maize, and that tub was a member of a gene family. We describe here, TUB, the human homolog of mouse tub, and two newly characterized family members, TULP1 for tubby like protein 1 and TULP2. These three family members, which differ in the N-terminal half of the protein, share 60-90% amino acid identity across their conserved C-terminal region and have distinct tissue expression patterns. Alternatively spliced transcripts with 5' variable sequences, three of which have been identified for the tubby gene, may mediate tissue specific expression. We also report that TUB, TULP1, and TULP2 map to human chromosomes 11p15.4, 6p21.3, and 19q13.1, respectively. TULP1 and TULP2 map within the minimal intervals identified for retinitis pigmentosa 14 on chromosome 6p21.3 and cone-rod dystrophy on chromosome 19q13.1. TULP1 and TULP2, which are expressed in the retina, make excellent candidates for these ocular diseases as a mutation within the tub gene is known to lead to early progressive retinal degeneration.