Defensin are 3-4 kDa antimicrobial peptides of which three distinct families have been identified; alpha-defensin, beta-defensins, and insect defensins. Recent investigations have shown that beta-defensins are present in the human airways and may be relevant to the pathogenesis of cystic fibrosis (CF) lung disease. We report here the further characterization of a recently identified mouse beta-defensin gene, Defb1, sometimes referred to as mBD-1, which is homologous to the human airway beta defensin hBD-1. We report that Defb1 is expressed in a variety of tissues including the airways and, similar to hBD-1, is not upregulated by lipopolysaccharide (LPS). Defb1 was found to consist of two small exons separated by a 16-kb intron and cytogenetic, and physical mapping linked it to the alpha defensin gene cluster on mouse Chromosome (Chr) 8. Functional studies demonstrate that, like hBD-1, Defb1 demonstrates a salt-sensitive antimicrobial activity against Pseudomonas aeruginosa. Of relevance to CF lung disease is the fact that neither the hBD-1 nor the mBD-1 peptides are active against Burkholderia cepacia.