We have isolated cDNA clones encoding the rat and human forms of a novel protein kinase, termed TESK1 (testis-specific protein kinase 1). Sequence analysis indicates that rat TESK1 contains 628 amino acid residues, composed of an N-terminal protein kinase consensus sequence followed by a C-terminal proline-rich region. Human TESK1 contains 626 amino acids, sharing 92% amino acid identity with its rat counterpart. The protein kinase domain of TESK1 is structurally similar to those of LIMK (LIM motif-containing protein kinase)- 1 and LIMK2, with 49 -50% sequence identity. Phylogenetic analysis of the protein kinase domains revealed that TESK1 is most closely related to a LIMK subfamily. Chromosomal localization of human TESK1 gene was assigned to 9p13. Anti-TESK1 antibody raised against the C-terminal peptide of TESK1 recognized two polypeptides of 68 and 80 kDa in cell lysates of COS cells transfected with human TESK1 cDNA expression plasmid. TESK1 protein expressed in COS cells exhibited serine/threonine kinase activity, when myelin basic protein was used as a substrate. Northern blot analysis revealed that TESK1 mRNA was specifically expressed in rat and mouse testicular germ cells. The TESK1 mRNA in the testis was detectable only after the 18th day of postnatal development of mice and was mainly expressed in the round spermatids. These observations suggest that TESK1 has a specific function in spermatogenesis.