The heterodimeric hypoxia-inducible transcription factor HIF-1 is involved in the oxygen-regulated transcription of several genes including erythropoietin. Cloning and sequencing of the alpha-subunit of mouse HIF-1 cDNA revealed a 90% overall homology to human HIF-l alpha but lack of any similarity in the 5' untranslated region and translational start site. Mouse HIF-1 alpha is encoded by an evolutionary conserved single-copy gene located on chromosome 12. We found a widespread constitutive expression of mouse HIf-1 alpha mRNA which was particularly high in lung and kidney. Despite a strong erythropoietin induction, HIF-1 alpha mRNA concentrations were not upregulated in hypoxic mouse tissues.