Hes2 encodes a mammalian basic helix-loop-helix transcriptional repressor homologous to the products of Drosophila hairy and Enhancer of split. Here, we isolated and characterized the mouse Hes2 gene. This gene consists of four exons, and all the introns are located within the protein-coding region at positions homologous to those of other Hes genes. On the inter-specific backcross analyses, mouse Hes2 is mapped to the distal region of Chromosome 4 near the Hes3 and Hes5 loci, which are different from the Hes1 locus on Chromosome 16. Upstream of the transcription initiation site, there are GC-rich regions, but a typical TATA box is not present. Transient transfection analyses demonstrated that, while Hes1 and Hes5 promoter activities are significantly upregulated by the active form of Notch, a key regulator of cellular differentiation, Hes2 and Hes3 promoter activities are not. These results suggest that Hes genes are functionally classified into two groups: those that are regulated by Notch and those that are not.