We report here the cloning and characterization of human and mouse genes for vascular endothelial growth factor C (VEGF-C), a newly isolated member of the vascular endothelial growth factor/platelet-derived growth factor (VEGF/PDGF) family. Both VEGF-C genes comprise over 40 kilobase pairs of genomic DNA and consist of seven exons, all containing coding sequences. The VEGF homology domain of VEGF-C is encoded by exons 3 and 4. Exons 5 and 7 encode cysteine-rich motifs of the type C6C10CRC, and exon 6 encodes additional C10CXCXC motifs typical of a silk protein. A putative alternatively spliced rare RNA form lacking exon 4 was identified in human fibrosarcoma cells, and a major transcription start site was located in the human VEGF-C gene 523 base pairs upstream of the translation initiation codon. The upstream promoter sequences contain conserved putative binding sites for Sp-1, AP-2, and NF-kappaB transcription factors but no TATA box, and they show promoter activity when transfected into cells. The VEGF-C gene structure is thus assembled from exons encoding propeptides and distinct cysteine-rich domains in addition to the VEGF homology domain, and it shows both similarities and distinct differences in comparison with other members of the VEGF/PDGF gene family.