Although both the 5'- and 3'-untranslated regions (5'- and 3'-UTRs) of eukaryotic mRNAs may play a crucial role in posttranscriptional gene regulation, we observe that cis-encoded natural antisense RNAs have a striking preferential complementarity to the 3'-UTRs of their target genes in mammalian (human and mouse) genomes. A null neutral model, evoking differences in the rate of 3'-UTR and 5'-UTR extension, could potentially explain high rates of 3'-to-3' overlap compared with 5'-to-5' overlap. However, employing a simulation model we show that this null model probably cannot explain the finding that 3'-to-3' overlapping pairs have a much higher probability (> 5 times) of conservation in both mouse and human genomes with the same overlapping pattern than do 5'-to-5' overlaps. Furthermore, it certainly cannot explain the finding that overlapping pairs seen in both genomes have a significantly higher probability of having co-expression and inverse expression (i.e. characteristic of sense-antisense regulation) than do overlapping pairs seen in only one of the two species. We infer that the function of many 3'-to-3' overlaps is indeed antisense regulation. These findings underscore the preference for, and conservation of, 3'-UTR-targeted antisense regulation, and the importance of 3'-UTRs in gene regulation.