Antimicrobial peptides are an abundant and diverse component of animal innate immunity. Within mammalian species, defensins and cathelicidins are the two principal antimicrobial peptide families. We identified and sequenced ten new sheep genes which encode potential antimicrobial peptides including two beta-defensins and eight cathelicidins. We mapped the two-exon beta-defensin genes to sheep chromosome 26 and the four-exon cathelicidin genes to sheep chromosome 19 using sheep-hamster somatic cell hybrids in conjunction with flow-sorted sheep chromosomes. These assignments confirm homology between sheep, cattle, mouse, and human antimicrobial peptide gene families. Contig construction for the sheep cathelicidin gene family demonstrates that three genes, OaDodeA, OaDodeB, and OaMAP-34, are present head-to-tail in a 14.5 kb region, and that four proline/arginine-rich genes, OaBac5, OaBac7.5, OaBac11, and OaBac6, are arranged head-to-tail in a region covering 30.5 kb. This richly diverse family of sheep cathelicidin peptides is encoded in a gene array which may reflect the mechanism of its evolution.