Using a recently characterized cDNA clone (HT-21) coding for the proα1(IV) chain of human type IV procollagen, we have isolatd three clones from a bacteriophage λ Charon 4A library of human genomic DNA. The intron/exon structure of the proα1(IV) genomic clones was analyzed by heteroduplex electron microscopy and nucleotide sequencing. The analysis showed that the introns separating exons 2-9 are large and have a total length of over 12,000 base pairs (bp). Six of seven exons at the 3' end of the gene coded for -Gly-Xaa-Yaa- repeats of the collagenous part of the chain. Five of the -Gly-Xaa-Yaa- coding exons (numbers 5-9) varied in size between 72 bp and 134 bp, and none of them were 54 bp or multiple thereof. A sixth exon (exon 4) was a junction exon containing 71 bp coding for -Gly-Xaa-Yaa- sequences and 142 bp coding for the carboxyl-terminal noncollagenous domain (NC-1). The seventh exon (exon 3, 178 bp) coded for sequences of the NC-1 domain. Five of the six -Gly-Xaa-Yaa- coding exons began with the second base coding for glycine, and only one exon began with a complete glycine codon at the 5' end. The results (i) suggest that the gene for the proα1(IV) chain of human basement membrane collagen is significantly larger than the genes for fibrillar collagens and (ii) show that it lacks the 54-bp exon repeats characteristic of fibrillar collagen genes.