Rat liver glucokinase (ATP:D-hexose 6-phosphotransferase, EC 188.8.131.52) was purified to homogeneity, cleaved, and subjected to amino acid sequence analysis. Forty-five percent of the protein sequence was obtained, and this information was used to design oligonucleotide probes to screen a rat liver cDNA library. A 1601-base pair cDNA (GK1) contained an open reading frame that encoded the amino acid sequences found in the peptides used to generate the oligonucleotide probes. A second cDNA was subsequently identified (GK.Z2), which is 2346 base pairs long and corresponds to nearly the entire glucokinase mRNA. Blot transfer analysis of hepatic RNA showed that glucokinase mRNA exists as a single species of about 2400 nucleotides. Four hours of insulin treatment of diabetic rats resulted in a 30-fold induction of this mRNA. GK.Z2 has a long open reading frame which, with the known partial peptide sequence, allowed us to deduce the primary structure of glucokinase. The enzyme is composed of 465 amino acids and has a mass of 51,924 daltons. Glucokinase has 53 and 33% amino acid sequence identities with the carboxyl-terminal domains of rat brain hexokinase I and yeast hexokinase, respectively. If conservative amino acid replacements are also considered, glucokinase is similar to these two enzymes at 75 and 63% of positions, respectively. The putative glucose- and ATP-binding domains of glucokinase were identified, and these regions appear to be highly conserved in the hexokinase family of enzymes.