Arginine vasopressin interacts with the vasopressin type 1a receptor (V1aR) to initiate physiological effects such as vasoconstriction of blood vessels and glycogenolysis. AVP is also involved in central nervous effects such as body homeostasis and blood pressure control. The complete genomic organization of the sheep V1aR gene has been determined, including the presence of one major and two minor transcriptional start sites at -321, -206 and -91bp respectively, relative to the ATG codon. Another more distal minor transcriptional start site was also localized between nucleotides -997 and -892 relative to the ATG codon. One intron exists in the sheep V1aR gene and potential cis- and trans- acting sites were identified in the sheep V1aR promoter. The promoter was also compared to the rat V1aR promoter. The sheep V1aR promoter displays features typical of housekeeping genes, although tissue-specific expression does not support this. V1aR mRNA is absent in the adult sheep liver but not the kidney. One copy of the V1aR gene exists in the sheep genome, which was localized to chromosome 3q23-24, and to the homoeologous position, 5q23-24 in cattle.