Mutations in the Drosophila retinal degeneration B (D-rdgB) gene cause light-enhanced retinal degeneration. Here, we report the isolation of the cDNA encoding human homologue of the D-rdgB and initial characterization of the gene products. Like D-rdgB, the human rdgB homologue (H-rdgB) is a transmembrane protein with the N-terminus sharing high homology to two closely related cytosolic proteins, phosphatidylinositol transfer protein (PITP) alpha and beta, indicating that rdgB like proteins belong to the family of PITP proteins. Using Northern and Western blotting, we demonstrated that the rdgB homologue is expressed in rat retina, olfactory bulb, and brain, but not in nonneuronal tissues. In the rat retina, immunoreactivity of the rdgB homologue was observed in photoreceptors and throughout the inner nuclear and plexiform layers; the strongest staining was in the inner plexiform layer. In the photoreceptor cells, the rdgB homologue was located primarily in the inner segment where sorting and traffic of membranes required for outer segment assembly take place. These data, together with recent findings showing PITPs as on important component of intracellular membrane traffic apparatus in mammalian cells, suggest that rdgB homologue may play a role in photoreceptor membrane renewal and in neurotransmitter release. Furthermore, using somatic hybrid cell hybridization and fluorescence in situ hybridization H-rdgB gene was mapped to human chromosome 11q13, a region known to contain several retinopathy loci, including Best disease and Bardet-Biedl syndrome I. Therefore, H-rdgB gene is an attractive candidate for several inherited retinal degenerative diseases.