The Sloan-Kettering viruses (SKVs) are a group of transforming retroviruses that were isolated from chicken embryo cells which had been infected with the avian leukosis virus transformation-defective Bratislava 77 (tdB77). Each of the SKV isolates was shown to contain multiple genomes of different sizes indicating the presence of several viruses in addition to tdB77. To identify and characterize the putative transforming gene(s) of the SKVs, we used hybridization selection to isolate the fraction of a representative cDNA which was SKV specific. Both solution and blot hybridization studies with viral RNAs showed that the specific probe contained a sequence, ski, that was at least partially held in common by the multiple SKV genomes. This conclusion was confirmed by the observation that a molecularly cloned ski probe also hybridized to each of the multiple SKV genomes. Southern blots of chicken DNA revealed homologs of ski (c-ski) which were not associated with endogenous viral loci. Results showing that c-ski was expressed in polyadenylated cytoplasmic RNA of uninfected chicken cells indicated that it is a functional gene. Other data showed that c-ski was conserved in avian and mammalian evolution, suggesting a functional role for the gene in species other than chickens. Using ski cDNA in solution hybridizations with viral RNAs and in Southern blot hybridization with cloned retroviral oncogenes, we did not detect any relationship between ski and any of 15 previously identified oncogenes.