Members of the protein kinase C (PKC) family of serine/threonine kinases, in particular PKCtheta, play critical roles in the regulation of differentiation and proliferation of T lymphocytes. In this study the genomic structure of the human PRKCQ gene that encodes PKCtheta was determined. Two genomic P1 clones were isolated from human P1 libraries using the PKCtheta cDNA as a probe and have been used to confirm the assignment of the single PRKCQ locus to chromosome 10p15 by FISH analysis. The PRKCQ locus, the first mammalian PKC gene locus characterized so far, spans approximately 62 kb and is composed of 15 coding exons and 14 introns, varying in size between 98 and 16000 bp. All exon-intron boundaries have been determined by long-range PCR and subsequent DNA sequence analysis. Comparison with other known genomic PKC genes reveals a high degree of homology to the genomic organization of the Drosophila melanogaster dPRKC gene. Alignment of the intron positions in the PRKCQ gene with the intron locations in the dPRKC gene indicates that the sites of seven of the 14 PRKCQ introns are exactly conserved. Exons 5 (32 bp), 11 (174 bp) and 12 (92 bp) share highest similarity in size, organization and primary structure with their counterparts in the Drosophila gene. On the basis of this knowledge of the genomic PRKCQ locus, a directed search for potential genetic polymorphisms and/or genetic abnormalities involved in human genetic disease(s) can now be initiated.