We have cloned and characterized the mouse cDNA of a third mammalian homolog of the Drosophila period gene and designated it mPer3. The mPER3 protein shows approximately 37% amino acid identity with mPER1 and mPER2 proteins. The three mammalian PER proteins share several regions of sequence homology, and each contains a protein dimerization PAS domain. mPer3 RNA levels oscillate in the suprachiasmatic nuclei (SCN) and eyes. In the SCN, mPer3 RNA levels are not acutely altered by light exposure at different times during subjective night. This contrasts with the acute induction by light of mPer1 and mPer2 RNA levels during early and late subjective night. mPer3 is widely expressed in tissues outside of brain. In liver, skeletal muscle, and testis, mPer RNAs exhibit prominent, synchronous circadian oscillations. The results highlight the differential light responses among the three mammalian Per genes in the SCN and raise the possibility of circadian oscillators in mammals outside of brain and retina.