Neurofibromatosis type 1 (NF1) is caused by mutations in a large gene on chromosome 17q11.2. Previously described partial cDNAs for this gene predicted a protein related to yeast IRA1/IRA2 and the mammalian RAS GTPase activator protein GAP. To initiate a detailed study of the role of this gene in NF1, we have characterized a set of overlapping cDNAs that represent its complete coding sequence. Our results show that two differentially expressed human NF1 mRNAs differ by a 63-bp insertion in the GAP-related domain. These mRNAs predict two 2,818- and 2,839-amino acid proteins with calculated molecular masses of approximately 317 and 319 kD. Extensive similarity to IRA proteins is evident in a 1,450-amino-acid central segment, roughly between amino acids 900 and 2,350. However, the remainder of the NF1 protein is not significantly similar to other proteins. Interestingly, the SK-N-SH human neuroblastoma line expresses no detectable NF1 mRNA, indicating that expression of NF1 is not essential for viability of this neural crest-derived tumor cell line.