We have used a 175-nucleotide-long primer extension product corresponding to the 5' end of HLA-DR alpha-chain mRNA to isolate a genomic clone from a human DNA library. The entire HLA-DR alpha gene is contained in two contiguous EcoRI fragments spanning about 7.5 kilobases (kb); most of the sequence has been determined. The 5' end of the gene is contained in a 4.4-kb fragment, and the coding segments and the 3' untranslated region are contained in a 3.1-kb fragment. The gene is split into five exons. The 5' untranslated region, the leader peptide, and the first two NH2-terminal amino acids are fused into the first exon. Exons 2 and 3 represent two extracellular coding domains of mature p34. The transmembrane domain, cytoplasmic domain, and part of the 3' untranslated region are merged into a fourth exon. The rest of the 3' untranslated region is in exon 5. The predicted amino acid sequence of mature p34, as deduced from its gene structure, has 229 residues and reveals a single potential disulfide loop (between cysteine residues 107 and 163) as well as a 22-amino acid residue membrane integrated segment (residues 193-214). Fifteen amino acids (residues 215-229) reside on the cytoplasmic side of the plasma membrane. There is considerable amino acid sequence homology between the second external domains of p34 and p29, as well as the immunoglobulin-like third domain of HLA-B7, and beta 2-microglobulin and the homologous constant region domains of the light and heavy chains of immunoglobulins.