We obtained 5' and 3' flanking sequences (5.4 kilobase pairs) from the psi eta-globin gene region of the rhesus macaque (Macaca mulatta) and combined them with available nucleotide data. The completed sequence, representing 10.8 kilobase pairs of contiguous noncoding DNA, was compared to the same orthologous regions available for human (Homo sapiens, as represented by five different alleles), common chimpanzee (Pan troglodytes), gorilla (Gorilla gorilla), and orangutan (Pongo pygmaeus). The nucleotide sequence for Macaca mulatta provided the outgroup perspective needed to evaluate better the relationships of humans and great apes. Pairwise comparisons and parsimony analysis of these orthologues clearly demonstrated (i) that humans and great apes share a high degree of genetic similarity and (ii) that humans, chimpanzees, and gorillas form a natural monophyletic group. These conclusions strongly favor a genealogical classification for higher primates consisting of a single family (Hominidae) with two subfamilies (Homininae for Homo, Pan, and Gorilla and Ponginae for Pongo).