The primary structure of the sheep renin precursor has been determined from its cDNA sequence. A library of cDNA clones was constructed from adrenalectomized sheep kidney poly(A)+ RNA and screened for sheep renin sequences with a cloned mouse renin cDNA probe. Of the 300 000 clones generated, 24 were hybridization positive and the nucleotide sequences of two of the longest clones were determined. These clones coded for the mature sheep renin protein and the 3′-untranslated sequence but did not extend to the amino-terminal region of preprorenin. Clones corresponding to the 5′ region of renin mRNA were generated by the polymerase chain reaction and their nucleotide sequences determined. The sheep renin precursor consists of 400 amino acids with a putative leader sequence of 14 amino acids and a putative 45 or 53 amino acid prosegment. The mature sheep renin protein has a 73% sequence identity with human renin. Northern analysis demonstrated the presence of renin mRNA in the kidney but not in other tissues in the sheep. While sodium depletion of sheep caused a rise in renin mRNA in the kidney, adrenalectomy also led to a large increase in renal renin mRNA. Southern analysis of genomic DNA suggests that there is only one gene coding for renin in the sheep.