Comparing globin genes and their flanking sequences across many species has allowed globin gene evolution to be reconstructed in great detail. Marsupial globin sequences have proved to be of exceptional significance. A previous finding of a beta(beta)-like omega(omega) gene in the alpha(alpha) cluster in the tammar wallaby suggested that the alpha and beta cluster evolved via genome duplication and loss rather than tandem duplication. To confirm and extend this important finding we isolated and sequenced BACs containing the alpha and beta loci from the distantly related Australian marsupial Sminthopsis macroura. We report that the alpha gene lies in the same BAC as the beta-like omega gene, implying that the alpha-omega juxtaposition is likely to be conserved in all marsupials. The LUC7L gene was found 3' of the S. macroura alpha locus, a gene order shared with humans but not mouse, chicken or fugu. Sequencing a BAC contig that contained the S. macroura beta globin and epsilon globin loci showed that the globin cluster is flanked by olfactory genes, demonstrating a gene arrangement conserved for over 180 MY. Analysis of the region 5' to the S. macroura epsilon (epsilon) globin gene revealed a region similar to the eutherian LCR, containing sequences and potential transcription factor binding sites with homology to eutherian hypersensitive sites 1 to 5. FISH mapping of BACs containing S. macroura alpha and beta globin genes located the beta globin cluster on chromosome 3q and the alpha locus close to the centromere on 1q, resolving contradictory map locations obtained by previous radioactive in situ hybridization.