The pituitary hormones corticotropin (ACTH) and beta-lipotropin (beta-LPH) are formed from a large common precursor. Recently, we have elucidated the whole primary structure of the bovine ACTH-beta-LPH precursor (designated alternatively as preproopiocortin) by determining the nucleotide sequence of cloned DNA complementary to the mRNA coding for the precursor protein. The amino acid sequence assigned has disclosed a characteristic repetitive structure of the ACTH-beta-LPH precursor. The repetitive units of the precursor protein each contain a melanotropin (MSH) sequence (alpha-, beta- or gamma-MSH) as well as other peptide components such as beta-endorphin and corticotropin-like intermediate lobe peptide (CLIP). The repetitive units as well as their peptide components are each bounded by paired basic amino acid residues, which apparently represent the sites of proteolytic processing. Several studies have confirmed the translational initiation site and protein structure assigned (see also ref. 11 and refs therein). In view of the recent knowledge about the organization of eukaryotic genes (see refs 12, 13 for reviews), it would be of particular interest to investigate the relationship between the repetitive structure of the ACTH-beta-LPH precursor containing different functional components and the arrangement of the protein-coding sequence in its gene. We have now isolated and characterized bovine genomic DNA fragments encoding this precursor protein and have demonstrated that the protein sequence is encoded by two non-consecutive DNA segments. An intron (intervening sequence) of approximately 2.2 kilobase pairs separates the smaller exon (mRNA-coding sequence), which contains the gene sequence encoding the signal peptide, from the larger exon, which contains the gene sequence for most of the protein structure, including the known biologically active component peptides.