The full-length cDNA corresponding to Stra8, a novel gene inducible by retinoic acid (RA) in P19 embryonal carcinoma cells, has been isolated and shown to encode a 45-kD protein. Both Stra8 mRNA and protein were induced in cells treated by all-trans and 9-cis retinoic acids. Two-dimensional gel analysis and dephosphorylation experiments revealed that the two stereoisomers of RA differentially regulate the phosphorylation status of the Stra8 protein, which was shown to exist in differently phosphorylated forms. Subcellular fractionation and immunocytochemistry studies showed that the Stra8 protein is cytoplasmic. During mouse embryogenesis, Stra8 expression was restricted to the male developing gonads, and in adult mice, the expression of Stra8 was restricted to the premeiotic germ cells. Thus, Stra8 protein may play a role in the premeiotic phase of spermatogenesis.