The BAT1 gene (D6S81E) encodes a member of the DEAD-box family of RNA-binding proteins, and lies in the central MHC, This region contains genes which affect susceptibility to immunopathological diseases. A 14-kb section of the human MHC containing the BAT1 gene and a further 5-kb telomeric of BAT1 was sequenced using DNA from individuals homozygous for HLA-A1, B8, DR3 and HLA-Al, B57, DR7. Analysis of our sequences and the previously reported human cDNA sequence showed that the expressed sequence of the 8.1 and 57.1 haplotypes is identical with only minor substitutions in the introns. Phylogenetic analysis suggests BAT1 may be a translation initiation factor. Screening of cells and tissues for BAT1 mRNA suggests an abundant member of a family of proteins expressed in multiple cell types, notably macrophages and hepatocytes. Expression was independent of MHC haplotype, consistent with the lack of sequence polymorphism.