Genes encoding the second component (C2), factor B, and complement protein C4 and Slp (sex-limited protein) are members of the major histocompatibility complex class III gene cluster. In this report we describe isolation of a mouse C2 cDNA clone and its use together with factor B and C4 cDNA clones to examine the S region in a panel of 42 haplotypes in laboratory and wild mice representing 5 species and subspecies of Mus. Conservation of the C2 factor B gene duplex was evidenced by relatively limited polymorphism associated with speciation and nucleotide sequence homology between mouse and human C2 and factor B. The C4-Slp gene duplex, on the other hand, showed extensive polymorphism by DNA blot analysis. This polymorphism correlated poorly with the C2/factor B restriction fragment length polymorphism, suggesting independent evolution of these two segments of the S region. Taken together, these data will be of particular importance in studies of mouse strains with abnormal regulation of immune effector systems since the class III gene products are essential for activation of the complement cascade.