The sequence of a human leukocyte-derived complementary DNA (cDNA), Hif-2h, which directs the formation in Escherichia coli of a polypeptide, IFN-alpha 1, with interferon (IFN) activity has been described. A second IFN cDNA, Hif-SN206, which also elicits synthesis of a biologically active IFN, IFN-alpha 2, is described in this article. Whereas IFN-alpha 2 is twice as active on human as on bovine cells, IFN-alpha 1 is 10 to 20 times more active on bovine than on human cells. As deduced from the cDNA's, the messenger RNA's for the two IFN's differ in length and in 20 percent of the nucleotides; the mature IFN polypeptides differ in 17 percent of the amino acids. Both IFN-alpha 1 and IFN-alpha 2 differ from the lymphoblastoid IFN described by others. Therefore, at least three different IFN-alpha genes are expressed in man; studies on genomic DNA reveal the presence of at least eight IFN-related genes.