We deduced the complete amino acid sequence of the rat brain Na,K-ATPase beta-subunit from cDNA. The rat brain beta-subunit exhibits a high degree of primary sequence and secondary structural homology with the human and Torpedo beta-subunit polypeptides. Analysis of rat tissue RNA reveals that the beta-subunit gene encodes four separate mRNA species which are expressed in a tissue-specific fashion. In ouabain-resistant HeLa C+ cells, beta-subunit DNA sequences are amplified (approximately 20-fold) and beta-subunit mRNAs are overproduced relative to levels in parental HeLa cells. These results suggest that the beta-subunit plays an important role in Na,K-ATPase structure-function and in the mechanism underlying cellular resistance to the cardiac glycosides.