The human genome contains multiple copies of sequences homologous to the cDNA coding for non-histone chromosomal protein HMG-17. To study the mechanism of generation and dispersion of the HMG-17 multigene family a human genomic library was screened and 70 clones isolated and studied by Southern transfer and restriction site analysis. The results suggest that most of the clones contain unique sequences. Sequence analysis of two genomic clones indicates that they contain elements typical of processed retropseudogenes. Even though both sequences contained open reading frames the sequences lacked introns, were flanked by short, direct repeats and lacked elements associated with functional genes. The sequences of the two pseudogenes were 85 % homologous to each other and each was 90% homologous to the human cDNA. Based on the sequence difference in the open reading frame between the pseudogenes and the cDNA it can be estimated that the sequences arose approximately ten million years ago from a common precursor. The present paper, which is the first study on genes coding for this nucleosomal binding protein, indicates that the HMG-17 multigene family is the largest known human retropseudogene family.