A rat histone H4 gene closely associated with the testis-specific H1t gene was isolated by screening the Sargent-Bonner rat genomic library using cloned human histone genes as probes. Both the H4 gene and the H1t gene are located on a 7-kb EcoRI genomic DNA fragment. Although the deduced amino acid sequence of the rat H4 histone is identical to that of the sequence of human histone H4, the nucleotide sequence of the coding region differs significantly from the coding region of the human H4 gene. Moreover, the relative spacing between the 5′-consensus sequence elements is unique for an H4 gene. S1-nuclease protection analyses reveal that both the H4 and H1t mRNA species are present in a fraction of rat testis cells highly enriched in pachytene spermatocytes, while only the H4 mRNA species is present in a rat myeloma cell line (Y3-Ag1.2.3). During a 1-h hydroxyurea treatment of the Y3 cells, which produces a 99% inhibition of DNA synthesis, the level of this H4 mRNA drops by only 50%, indicating that the stability of this mRNA is only partially coupled with DNA synthesis. © 1987.