Fifteen DNA clones containing sequences related to human interferon-alpha cDNA were isolated from a human chromosomal gene bank (Nagata et al., Nature 287 (1980) 401-408) and characterized by restriction mapping, R-loop and heteroduplex analysis. Nine distinct DNA segments hybridized strongly with interferon-alpha 1 cDNA and formed R-loops with poly(A) RNA from interferon-producing human leukocytes; most if not all of these segments represent functional interferon genes. Five segments hybridized weakly with the probe and did not form R-loops with the poly(A) RNA; one of these was characterized as an interferon-alpha pseudogene. Several DNA segments overlap and define a region of 36 kilobase pairs (kb) that contains three strongly and three weakly hybridizing sequences. From our data and those of Goeddel et al. (Nature 290 (1981) 20-25) we conclude that there exist at least 11 distinct genes of gene-like sequences of the interferon-alpha type in the human genome, of which most likely represents an allelic variant, and at least five pseudogenes distantly related to the interferon-alpha genes.