RT-PCR cloning was performed to find unknown members of the dynein superfamily expressed in rat brain. Six kinds of degenerate primers designed for the dynein catalytic domain consensuses were used for extensive PCR amplifications. We have sequenced 550 plasmid clones which turned out to include 13 kinds of new dynein-like sequences (DLP1-8, 9A/B, 10-12) and cytoplasmic dynein heavy chain. In these clones, alternative splicing was detected for a 105 nt-domain containing the CFDEFNRI consensus just downstream of the most N-terminal P-loop (DLP9A and 9B). By using these obtained sequences, initial hybridization studies were performed. Genomic Southern blotting showed each sequence corresponds to a single copy of the gene, while northern blotting of adult brain presented more than one band for some subtypes. We further accomplished molecular evolutionary analysis to recognize their phylogenetic origins for the axonemal and non-axonemal (cytoplasmic) functions. Different methods (UPGMA, NJ and MP) presented well coincident phylogenetic trees from 44 partial amino acid sequences of dynein heavy chain from various eukaryotes. The trunk for all the cytoplasmic dynein heavy chain homologues diverged directly from the root of the phylogenetic tree, suggesting that the first dynein gene duplication defined two distinct functions as respective subfamilies. Of particular interest, we found a duplication event of the cytoplasmic dynein heavy chain gene giving rise to another subtype, DLP4, located between the divergence of yeast and that of Dictyostelium. Such evolutionary topology builds up an inceptive hypothesis that there are at least two non-axonemal dynein heavy chains in mammals.