Complementary DNA clones encoding the human vitamin D receptor have been isolated from human intestine and T47D cell cDNA libraries. The nucleotide sequence of the 4605-base pair (bp) cDNA includes a noncoding leader sequence of 115 bp, a 1281-bp open reading frame, and 3209 bp of 3' noncoding sequence. Two polyadenylylation signals, AATAAA, are present 25 and 70 bp upstream of the poly(A) tail, respectively. RNA blot hybridization indicates a single mRNA species of approximately equal to 4600 bp. Transfection of the cloned sequences into COS-1 cells results in the production of a single receptor species indistinguishable from the native receptor. Sequence comparisons demonstrate that the vitamin D receptor belongs to the steroid-receptor gene family and is closest in size and sequence to another member of this family, the thyroid hormone receptor.