The syndrome of humoral hypercalcemia of malignancy (HHM) appears to be mediated in many instances by a parathyroid hormone-like peptide, which has recently been purified, sequenced, and cloned. Using a probe representing the coding region of the human PTH-like peptide, we examined by Northern analysis poly (A)+ RNA from a variety of human and animal tumors associated with HHM. Hybridizing transcripts were identified in mRNA from each of 12 human and each of four animal HHM-associated tumors, with a complex hybridization pattern observed in the human mRNAs and a relatively simple pattern observed in the animal mRNAs. Poly (A)+ RNA prepared from tumors of similar histological types unassociated with HHM failed to hybridize with the probe. Messenger RNA-dependent biological activity from the animal tumors was entirely eliminated in a hybridization-arrest experiment using a complementary oligonucleotide spanning the region of homology between human PTH and the PTH-like peptide. These findings indicate that the PTH-like peptide is associated with the syndrome of HHM in a wide spectrum of tumor types from a variety of mammalian species and that the PTH-like sequence in the proximal amino terminus of the peptide is highly conserved.