Analysis of the tammar wallaby β-lactoglobulin cDNA and inferred amino acid sequences reveal extensive sequence divergence from the eutherian β-lactoglobulins. Conserved residues include the cysteines and a number of individual amino acids involved in structure and ligand-binding. The only region of extended similarity is a heptapeptide sequence which may impart specificity to its interaction with a receptor protein. Northern analysis of total mammary RNA revealed two transcripts which result from differential utilization of polyadenylation signals. The concentration of β-lactoglobulin mRNA increased in late lactation and correlates with increases in milk production and levels of milk fat. Quantification of β-lactoglobulin mRNA levels in hormone-stimulated mammary gland explants from tammars in late pregnancy suggests that maximal induction of the gene is dependent on prolactin alone and that expression is not modulated by other hormones known to play a role in the initiation of lactation in eutherians.