With the previously obtained rat liver serine dehydratase cDNA (SDH2; Ogawa, H., Miller, D.A., Dunn, T., Su, Y., Burcham, J. M., Peraino, C., Fujioka M., Babcock, K., and Pitot, H. C. (1988) Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S. A. 85, 5809-5813) as a probe, we isolated a different species of cDNA (SDH3) from the same cDNA library from which SDH2 was obtained. Nucleotide sequence analysis has indicated that SDH3 has an open reading frame which encodes 327 amino acid residues and which is identical to that of the cDNA obtained by Noda et al. (Noda, C., Ito, K., Nakamura, T., and Ichihara, A., (1988) FEBS Lett. 234, 331-335). Primer extension analysis and RNase protection mapping clarified that the SDH3 mRNA was the major mRNA for serine dehydratase in the liver, and its transcription begins with a T residue located 23 nucleotides down-stream of a TATA-like box. In vitro transcription/translation experiment demonstrated that SDH3 encoded a polypeptide of 35 kDa, a size in agreement with that of the subunit of the purified protein, whereas SDH2, despite having a size larger than SDH3, produced a peptide of much smaller size that reacted with anti-serine dehydratase IgG. SDH2 was found to have a stop codon early in the sequence and is predicted to encode a polypeptide of 8.9 kDa. Also, SDH2 has a 5'-noncoding sequence different from that of SDH3. These results indicate that alternative transcription initiation and different modes of splicing of the primary transcripts of rat serine dehydratase gene result in the formation of two species of mRNA, of which only one is translated into the mature serine dehydratase protein.