P72, a novel human member of the DEAD box family of putative RNA-dependent ATPases and ATP-dependent RNA helicases was isolated from a HeLa cDNA library. The predicted amino acid sequence of p72 is highly homologous to that of the prototypic DEAD box protein p68. In addition to the conserved core domains characteristic of DEAD box proteins, p72 contains several N-terminal RGG RNA-binding domains and a serine/glycine rich C-terminus likely involved in mediating protein-protein interactions. A p72-specific probe detects two mRNAs of approximately 5300 and 9300 bases which, although ubiquitously expressed, show variability in their expression levels in different tissues. Purified recombinant p72 exhibits ATPase activity in the presence of a range of RNA moieties. Immunocytochemical studies of p68 and p72 show that these proteins localise to similar locations in the nucleus of HeLa cells, suggesting their involvement in a nuclear process.