The expression and secretion of ABO antigens in epithelial cells of glands are controlled by secretor-type alpha (1,2)fucosyltransferase activity. We have examined the expression of the secretor-type alpha(1,2)fucosyltransferase gene (FUT2) and a pseudogene of FUT2 (Sec1) in several tumor cell lines by northern blot and/or reverse-transcription-PCR (RT-PCR) analyses. Transcripts of FUT2 were found in total RNA from ovarian, gastric and colonic cancer cell lines but not from six leukemic cell lines, including erythroleukemic HEL cells, by RT-PCR. On the other hand, RT-PCR indicated that Sec1 was expressed in all these tumor cells, including all hematopoietic cells studied. Northern blot analysis indicated that FUT2 transcripts with a similar size (3.3 kb) were expressed in cancer cell lines. Rapid amplification of cDNA ends suggested that the entire FUT2 cDNA is 3.1-kb long and has two Alu repetitive elements in its 3' untranslated region, including an inverted repeat. The mRNA, therefore, may form a large stem-and-loop structure (1.2 kb). Each stem contains about 300 bases, the loop contains 640 bases, and the percentage of complementary nucleotide sequences in the stem region is 85%. The presence of a large stem-and-loop structure in the 3' untranslated region may regulate the level of the FUT2 transcript by affecting the stability of the mRNA.