The human inter-alpha-trypsin inhibitor heavy chain H1 (ITI heavy chain H1) gene was isolated from two overlapping clones. It spans 14 kbp and is composed of 22 exons from 15 bp to 281 bp in size and has consensus splice sites. Intron sizes range from 80 bp to 2000 bp. It codes for the precursor of HC1 that is part of the serum ITI form of 220 kDa. Two major transcriptional initiation sites were identified in the 5'-flanking region, which contained putative promoter elements, but no typical TATA and CAAT boxes. mRNA for the ITI heavy chain H1 was found only in liver. The tissue-specific transcription of the gene might be due to the presence of binding sites for the hepatocyte nuclear factor HNF-5 and to the octameric motifs. A previous overlapping of cDNA clones indicated the absence of 29 bp in one of these clones. The present study shows that the 29 bp is located within the gene at the end of exon 21. A reverse-transcriptase polymerase chain reaction mapping analysis of liver mRNA identified the two types of the mRNA for ITI heavy chain H1. Accordingly, the data demonstrate that there is alternative splicing of at least one exon of the ITI heavy chain H1 gene.