CD26 is a lymphocyte cell surface antigen which is increased during T -cell activation and is also expressed in other tissues. It is an atypical serine protease belonging to the prolyl oligopeptidase family. CD26 has been implicated in a variety of biological functions including T-cell activation, cell-to-cell adhesion, and recently in HIV infection. This paper describes, through the isolation and partial sequencing of eight human CD26 genomic clones, the first information on the genomic organization of the prolyl oligopeptidase family. We have established that the human CD26 gene spans approximately 70 kilo-bases (kb) and contains 26 exons, ranging in size from 45 base pairs (bp) to 1.4 kb. The nucleotides that encode the serine recognition site (G-W-S-Y G) are split between two exons. This clearly distinguishes the genomic organization of the prolyl oligopeptidase family from that of the classical serine protease family. The 5' flanking domain of the CD26 gene contains neither a TATA box nor a CAAT box, but a 300 by region extremely rich in C and G (72%) contains potential binding sites for several transcriptional factors. The human CD26 gene encodes two messages sized at about 4.2 and 2.8 kb. These are both expressed at high levels in the placenta and kidney and at moderate levels in the lung and liver. Only the 4.2 kb mRNA was expressed at low levels in skeletal muscle, heart, brain, and pancreas. Fluorescence in situ hybridization on metaphase chromosome spreads located the human CD26 gene to the long arm of chromosome 2(2q24.3).