We previously isolated a cDNA fragment homologous to the Drosophila Bicaudal-D gene (Bic-D) using a hybridization selection procedure with cosmids derived from the short arm of human chromosome 12. A PCR-mediated cDNA cloning strategy was applied to obtain the coding sequence of the human homologue (BICD1) and to generate a partial mouse (Bicdh1) cDNA. The Drosophila Bicaudal-D gene encodes a coiled coil protein, characterized by five alpha-helix domains and a leucine zipper motif, that forms part of the cytoskeleton and mediates the correct sorting of mRNAs for oocyte- and axis-determining factors during oogenesis. Analysis of the predicted amino acid sequence of the BICD1 cDNA clones indicates that the sequence similarity is essentially limited to the amphipatic helices and the leucine zipper, but the conserved order of these domains suggests a similar function of the protein in mammalians. A database search further indicates the existence of a second human homologue on chromosome arm 9q and a Caenorhabditis elegans homologue. Northern blot analysis indicates that both the human and the murine homologues produce an mRNA species of congruent with9.5 kb expressed in brain, heart, and skeletal muscle and during mouse embryonic development. The conserved structural characteristics of the BICD1 protein and its expression in muscle and especially brain suggest that BICD1 is a component of a cytoskeleton-based mRNA sorting mechanism conserved during evolution.