The chicken calmodulin I (CaMI) gene has been isolated and characterized on the level of cDNA and genomic DNA. The deduced amino acid (aa) sequence is identical to the one of chicken CaMII which consists of 148 aa. The CaMI gene contains six exons. Its intron/exon organization is identical to that of the chicken CaMII and the CaMI and CaMIII genes of rat and human. Expression of the CaMI gene was detected in all chicken tissues examined, although at varying levels. The gene is transcribed into four mRNAs of 0.8, 1.4, 1.7 and 4.4 kb as determined by Northern blot analysis. Our results demonstrate that the "multigene-one-protein" principle of CaM synthesis is not only applicable to mammals whose CaM is encoded by three different genes, but also to chickens.