Sequence variation within RPS4Y, a ribosomal protein gene located in the nonpseudoautosomal region of the Y chromosome, was used to elucidate the origin of this gene in primates. Complete coding and additional flanking sequences (949 bp) of the RPS4Y locus were determined in four nonhuman primate species. Phylogenetic reconstruction of RPS4 sequence evolution supports the monophyly of mammalian RPS4 and RPS4Y. Molecular evolutionary rate estimation reveals significantly elevated rates of DNA and protein evolution in RPS4Y compared with its X-chromosome homologs. These rates enable us to estimate the timing of the transposition of RPS4X to the Y chromosome (95% confidence interval, 32 MYA-74 MYA), and this estimate was verified by Southern hybridization analysis of prosimian and simian genomic DNA. These data support a transposition event of ancestral primate RPS4X to the Y chromosome prior to the divergence of Prosimii.