Recent studies have identified a new family of inwardly rectifying K+ channels, members of which are known by the acronyms ROMK1, IRK1, and GIRK1. We have isolated cDNAs encoding the human homologue of ROMK1 from an adult kidney cDNA library. The sequences of the human kidney ROMK1 cDNA clones indicated that they were derived from at least two types of mRNAs, human ROMK1A and human ROMK1B, differing in sequence at their 5' ends. The isolation of the human ROMK1 gene, localized to chromosome band 11q24 by fluorescence in situ hybridization, indicated that the different ROMK1 transcripts were generated by alternative splicing. Human ROMK1A mRNA was predicted to encode a protein of 389 amino acids, having 93% identity with the 391-residue rat ROMK1 protein, and expression studies in Xenopus oocytes indicated that it encoded a Ba(2+)-sensitive inwardly rectifying K+ channel with properties similar to those reported for cloned rat ROMK1. Human ROMK1B mRNA was predicted to encode a protein of 372 amino acids whose sequence was truncated at the amino terminus but otherwise identical to that of the human ROMK1A protein. Translation of human ROMK1B mRNA was predicted to initiate at a codon corresponding to Met-18 of human ROMK1A mRNA. Reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction amplification of human kidney mRNA revealed human ROMK1A and -B transcripts as well as a third type of transcript, human ROMK1C mRNA, which was predicted to encode a protein identical to human ROMK1B. Human ROMK1A, -B, and -C transcripts were identified in kidney, whereas only human ROMK1A mRNA could be detected in pancreatic islets and other tissues in which human ROMK1 was expressed at low levels. Thus, tissue-specific alternative splicing of human ROMK1 mRNA may result in the expression of a family of ROMK1 proteins.