In accordance with detection of a few phospholipase A(2) (PLA(2)) isozyme genes by Southern blot analysis, only two cDNAs, named NnkPLA-I and NnkPLA-II, encoding group I PLA(2)s, NnkPLA-I and NnkPLA-II, respectively, were isolated from the venom gland cDNA library of Elapinae Naja naja kaouthia of Malaysia. NnkPLA-I and NnkPLA-II showed four amino acid substitutions, all of which were brought about by single nucleotide substitution. No existence of clones encoding CM-II and CM-III, PLA(2) isozymes which had been isolated from the venom of N. naja kaouthia of Thailand, in Malaysian N. naja kaouthia venom gland cDNA library was verified by dot blot hybridization analysis with particular probes. NnkPLA-I and NnkPLA-II differed from CM-II and CM-III with four and two amino acid substitutions. respectively, suggesting that their molecular evolution is regional. The comparison of NnkPLA-I, NnkPLA-II and cDNAs encoding other group I snake venom gland PLA(2)s indicated that the 5'- and 3'-untranslated regions are more conserved than the mature protein-coding region and that the number of nucleotide substitutions per nonsynonymous site is almost equal to that per synonymous sire in the protein-coding region, suggesting that accelerated evolution has occurred in group I venom gland PLA(2)s possibly to acquire new physiological functions. (C) 1999 Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved.