We have isolated and characterized DNA segments containing IFN-alpha-related sequences from human lambda and cosmid clone banks. We describe six linkage groups comprising 18 distinct IFN-alpha-related loci, and report the nucleotide sequences of nine chromosomal IFN-alpha-genes with intact reading frames, as well as of five pseudogenes. Taking into account as yet unsequenced genes as well as clones described by others, there are now seven linkage groups and 23 loci, of which 15 correspond to potentially functional genes and six to non-functional genes; two loci remain unsequenced. Eighteen additional sequences are likely to be allelic to the above. The finding that at least two IFN-alpha genes appear to be natural hybrids of other IFN-alpha genes, and that two distinct IFN-alpha loci have completely identical coding sequences, although their flanking regions are different, is evidence for information exchange between the individual genes.