BACKGROUND: Immotile cilia syndrome (ICS) or primary ciliary dyskinesia (PCD) is an autosomal recessive disorder in humans in which the beating of cilia and sperm flagella is impaired. Ciliated epithelial cell linings are present in many tissues. To understand ciliary assembly and motility, it is important to isolate those genes involved in the process. RESULTS: Total RNA was isolated from cultured ciliated nasal epithelial cells after in vitro ciliogenesis and expressed sequenced tags (ESTs) were generated. The functions and locations of 63 of these ESTs were derived by BLAST from two public databases. These ESTs are grouped into various classes. One group has high homology not only with the mitochondrial genome but also with one or more chromosomal DNAs, suggesting that very similar genes, or genes with very similar domains, are expressed from both mitochondrial and nuclear DNA. A second class comprises genes with complete homology with part of a known gene, suggesting that they are the same genes. A third group has partial homology with domains of known genes. A fourth group, constituting 33% of the ESTs characterized, has no significant homology with any gene or EST in the database. CONCLUSIONS: We have shown that sufficient information about the location of ESTs could be derived electronically from the recently completed human genome sequences. This strategy of EST localization should be significantly useful for mapping and identification of new genes in the forthcoming human genome sequences with the vast number of ESTs in the dbEST database.