Two isozymes of heme oxygenase (HO), HO-1 or HSP32 and the constitutive form HO-2, have been characterized to date. We report the discovery of a third protein species and refer to it as HO-3. HO-3 is the product of a single transcript of ≈2.4 kb and can encode a protein of ≈33 kDa. The HO-3 transcript is found in the spleen, liver, thymus, prostate, heart, kidney, brain and testis and is the product of a single-copy gene. The predicted amino acid structure of HO-3 differs from both HO-1 (HSP32) and HO-2 but is closely related to HO-2 (≈90%). Escherichia coli expressed and purified HO-3 protein does not cross react with polyclonal antibodies to either rat HO-1 or HO-2, is a poor heme catalyst, and displays hemoprotein spectral characteristics. The predicted protein has two heme regulatory motifs that may be involved in heme binding. These motifs and the hemoprotein nature of HO-3 suggest a potential regulatory role for the protein in cellular processes which are heme-dependent.