The Hox genes encode transcription factors that play a key role in specifying body plans of metazoans. They are organized into clusters that contain up to 13 paralogue group members. The complex morphology of vertebrates has been attributed to the duplication of Hox clusters during vertebrate evolution. In contrast to the single Hox cluster in the amphioxus (Branchiostoma floridae), an invertebrate-chordate, mammals have four clusters containing 39 Hox genes. Ray-finned fishes (Actinopterygii) such as zebrafish and fugu possess more than four Hox clusters. The coelacanth occupies a basal phylogenetic position among lobe-finned fishes (Sarcopterygii), which gave rise to the tetrapod lineage. The lobe fins of sarcopterygians are considered to be the evolutionary precursors of tetrapod limbs. Thus, the characterization of Hox genes in the coelacanth should provide insights into the origin of tetrapod limbs. We have cloned the complete second exon of 33 Hox genes from the Indonesian coelacanth, Latimeria menadoensis, by extensive PCR survey and genome walking. Phylogenetic analysis shows that 32 of these genes have orthologs in the four mammalian HOX clusters, including three genes (HoxA6, D1, and D8) that are absent in ray-finned fishes. The remaining coelacanth gene is an ortholog of hoxc1 found in zebrafish but absent in mammals. Our results suggest that coelacanths have four Hox clusters bearing a gene complement more similar to mammals than to ray-finned fishes, but with an additional gene, HoxC1, which has been lost during the evolution of mammals from lobe-finned fishes.