In this study, reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction was used to amplify human endothelin receptor A (ETA) and ETB receptor mRNA. A truncated ETA receptor transcript with exons 3 and 4 skipped was found. The skipping of these two exons results in 109 amino acids being deleted from the receptor. The truncated receptor was expressed in all tissues and cells examined, but the level of expression varied. In melanoma cell lines and melanoma tissues, the truncated receptor gene was the major species, whereas the wild-type ETA was predominant in other tissues. A 1.9-kb ETA transcript was identified in melanoma cell lines by Northern blot, which was much smaller than the transcript in heart and in other tissues reported previously (4.3 kb). The cDNA coding regions of the truncated and wild-type ETA receptors were stably transfected into Chinese hamster ovary (CHO) cells. The truncated ETA receptor-transfected CHO cells did not show binding affinity to endothelin 1 (ET-1) or endothelin 3 (ET-3). The function and biological significance of this truncated ETA receptor is not clear, but it may have regulatory roles for cell responses to ETs.