The inhibin β(B) (INHBB) gene was studied as a candidate gene for the prolificacy of Small Tail Han and Hu sheep. According to the sequence of exon 1 and 2 of bovine INHBB gene, six pairs of primers were designed to detect single nucleotide polymorphisms of exon 1 and 2 of INHBB gene in both high (Small Tail Han and Hu sheep) and low prolificacy breeds (Dorset, Texel and German Mutton Merino sheep) by polymerase chain reaction-single strand conformation polymorphism (PCR-SSCP). Three pairs of primers (primers 1-1, 1-2 and 1-3) were used to amplify the exon 1, and others (primers 2-1, 2-2 and 2-3) to the exon 2. Only the products amplified by primer 2-3 displayed polymorphism. For primer 2-3, three genotypes (AA, AB and BB) were detected in Hu sheep and only AA genotype in other breeds. In Hu sheep, frequency of AA, AB and BB genotypes was 0.636, 0.046 and 0.318, respectively. Sequencing revealed 276A > G mutation (based on the amplification region of primer 2-3) which did not cause any amino acid change because it lay in the 3' untranslated region. The ewes with genotype BB had 0.58 (P < 0.01) lambs more than those with AA in Hu sheep.