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Summary The cattle major histocompatibility complex (MHC) class II DR gene product is a heterodimer encoded by the BoLA-DRA and -DRB3 genes. Several groups have isolated cDNA and genomic clones for these genes, but their full genomic organization has not been described. We used a combination of long-range polymerase chain reaction (PCR), cloning and sequencing to define the organization of the DRB3 gene on existing genomic clones and in genomic DNA. We estimate the size of the coding region to be 11.4 kbp. Sequencing of full-length PCR clones from two different haplotypes confirmed that they carried complete DRB3 genes and allowed the design of probes and primers to isolate and characterize the DRB3 promoter and 3′ end. Fragments carrying the 5′ end of the DRB3 gene and its promoter were identified on bacterial artificial chromosome (BAC) clones carrying the BoLA-DR genes. A 10-kbp promoter fragment was subcloned from one clone and a 1.7-kbp region including exon 1 and the promoter was sequenced. A 3-kbp fragment encoding exons 4–6 and the entire 3′ untranslated region of the DRB3 gene was isolated from lambda clone A1 and sequenced. This provides us with improved characterization of the DRB3*0101 and DRB3*2002 alleles, and also subcloned 5′ and 3′ flanking regions of the polymorphic DRB3 gene for use in functional studies.