Endothelial cells express a 400-kDa or 240-kDa laminin alpha chain, depending on their tissue of origin or physiological state [1, 2]. Using differential display and subsequent screening of a mouse endothelial cell cDNA library we here identify the gene coding for the 240-kDa laminin chain as the laminin alpha 4 gene. The complete mouse laminin alpha 4 cDNA sequence is reported and compared with other laminin alpha chains. In situ hybridization of embryonic and new born mouse tissues revealed expression of laminin alpha 4 mRNA in a subset of endothelium, in particular aortic endothelium, endocardium and endothelium of blood vessels in the skin and in the brain. Strong laminin alpha 4 expression by aortic endothelia was confirmed by data obtained from cultured bovine aortic endothelial cells (BAEC). Isolation of laminin from BAEC conditioned medium revealed a Y-shaped molecule in rotary shadowing. Subsequent sequencing of BAEC laminin resulted in laminin alpha 4, beta 1 and gamma 1 amino acid sequences, confirming that laminin alpha 4 is one of the major laminin alpha chains expressed by aortic endothelium not only in the mouse. In addition, strong laminin alpha 4 mRNA expression occurred in peripheral nerves, cardiac muscle, fat, the dermis of the skin and lung stroma of mouse tissues. The data demonstrate a cytokine and progesterone-regulated differential expression of laminin alpha 4 mRNA in mouse endothelium, suggesting a distinct functional role for this laminin chain in endothelium.