A cDNA clone encoding human thymosin-beta 4 was isolated from a cDNA library prepared from peripheral blood leukocytes of a patient with acute lymphocytic leukemia. This clone contained the entire coding sequence of 43 amino acid residues of thymosin-beta 4 and had an initiation codon and two termination codons. The amino acid and nucleotide sequences in the coding region were well conserved between rat and human. Nine of 132 nucleotides were different in the coding sequences (93% homology), but the deduced amino acid sequences were identical. No signal peptide was found in the deduced protein sequence. Human thymosin-beta 4 mRNA, approximately 830 nucleotides in length, was about 30 nucleotides larger than rat thymosin-beta 4 mRNA. Expression of the human thymosin-beta 4 gene in various primary myeloid and lymphoid malignant cells and in a few human hemopoietic cell lines was studied. Northern blot analyses of different neoplastic B lymphocytes revealed that steady state levels of thymosin-beta 4 mRNA varied as a function of differentiation stage. Thymosin-beta 4 mRNA levels were decreased in myeloma cells as are class II human leukocyte antigen, Fc receptor, and complement receptor, suggesting a relationship between thymosin-beta 4 and the immune response. Thymosin-beta 4 mRNA was more highly expressed in mature granulocytes than in immature blastic cells. Treatment of THP-1 cells, a human monocytic cell line, with recombinant human interferon-lambda reduced the levels of thymosin-beta 4 mRNA. Its level decreased after differentiation of THP-1 cells into Ia+ macrophages, but increased after differentiation of HL-60 cells into Ia- macrophages. The pattern of thymosin-beta 4 gene expression suggests that it may play a fundamental role in the host defense mechanism.