Heart muscles of hagfishes Paramyxine atami and Eptatretus okinoseanus express the B4 isozyme of lactate dehydrogenase [L-LDH: NAD oxidoreductase, EC 18.104.22.168] (LDH-B4) whereas their skeletal muscles express LDH-A4. To examine the relationship of hagfish LDHs to lamprey and other vertebrate LDHs, we determined the cDNA sequences of LDH-A from three hagfishes and compared them with previously published sequences. A phylogenic tree shows that hagfishes diverged just after lampreys. The deduced amino acid sequences showed ten regions common to all vertebrate LDHs examined, i.e., the active site, the pocket recognizing the substrate-coenzyme complex, part of a loop at the surface, and the substrate binding site. The cyclostomate-specific regions (S1, S2) were located in the neighborhood of the active site loop. Three regions, IGS1, IGS2 and IGS3, seem to have altered their structures during the differentiation of LDH isozymes, and the regions remain in LDH-B of vertebrates hitherto examined. IGS2 and IGS3, which are in the neighborhood of the active site, may regulate catalytic activity. There were differences in six amino acid residues (6, 10, 20, 156, 269, and 341) in LDHs of hagfishes. These differences might reflect the tolerance to high pressure and low temperature of LDHs from hagfishes at different habitat depths.