The male-specific region of the Y chromosome is evolutionarily predisposed to accumulate genes important for spermatogenesis. Recent work in this laboratory identified two novel Y-linked transcripts that were upregulated in the testis in response to deletions on the chromosome arm Yq. This article reports the further characterisation of these two transcripts and their comparison to related X and autosomal genes. Both map to chromosome arm Yp, outside the Sxr ( b ) deletion interval, both are present in at least two copies on the Y, and both are expressed specifically in spermatids. Given the testicular phenotype of mice with deletions on the Y chromosome, both genes are therefore likely to function in spermatid differentiation. AK006152 is a novel mouse-specific gene with a single potential open reading frame, and it is unusual in that there appears to be no X-linked relative. H2al2y is a novel histone in the H2A superfamily and has multiple X-linked relatives and a single autosomal relative in mouse. The presence of a single X-linked copy in rat suggests that H2al amplification is mouse-specific, with the alternative explanation being an earlier amplification followed by gene loss. A phylogenetic analysis of H2al genes together with other H2A genes indicates that H2al is most closely related to the mammalian-specific H2A.Bbd family of histones. Interestingly, K (a)/K (s) analysis indicates that the X and Y members of the H2al family may be under positive selection in mouse, while the autosomal copy is under purifying selection and presumably retains the ancestral function.