In chicken, beta-tubulin is encoded by a family of seven genes. We have now isolated and sequenced overlapping cDNA clones corresponding to gene c beta 7 (previously designated c beta 4'), the only chicken beta-tubulin not previously characterized. The inferred amino acid sequence of c beta 7 tubulin is identical with the class I beta-tubulin isotype found in human, mouse and rat. Moreover, c beta 7 is highly expressed in almost all tissue and cell types in chicken, a pattern similar to those of the genes for class I beta-tubulin isotypes in other vertebrates. Comparison of the complete family of chicken beta-tubulin gene sequences reveals that the heterogeneity of beta-tubulin polypeptides encoded in a higher eukaryote is confined to six distinct beta-tubulin isotypes. Five of these are members of evolutionarily conserved isotypic classes (I to V), whereas the sixth represents a divergent erythroid-specific tubulin whose sequence has not been conserved.