Tenascin-C is a mosaic, linear glycoprotein that is up-regulated during many normal and pathological processes involving either cell migration or tissue morphogenesis, such as invasion of malignant cells and wound healing. Human tenascin-C contains 8 consecutive type III fibronectin (TNCfn) domains that are involved in alternative splicing and potentially generate a large number of isoforms that code for tenascin-C proteins with subtly different functions. Human tenascin-C splice variants were investigated by RT-PCR in a range of normal and pathological oral mucosal tissues. A novel, 9th human TNCfn domain involved in alternative splicing was identified. It shares 70% nucleic acid and 55% protein sequence homology with chicken TNCfn-ad2. As in avians, this novel repeat was located between TNCfn-B and TNCfn-ad1 and accordingly was designated human TNCfn-ad2. Human TNCfn-ad2 was detected in only 2 of 10 oral cancers. However, TNCfn-ad2 was absent from 40 normal, reactive, pre-malignant and other oral mucosal specimens investigated. Previous studies have described 8 splice variant transcripts for human tenascin-C. By systematic investigation we identified further novel splice variants for human tenascin-C. Furthermore, our results indicate that many potential splice variants probably do not exist in the tissues investigated. Thus, we have demonstrated that human tenascin-C transcripts generate a complex but selected repertoire of different alternative splice products.