A methionine-rich 10 kDa zein storage protein from maize was isolated and the sequence of the N-terminal 30 amino acids was determined. Based on the amino acid sequence, two mixed oligonucleotides were synthesized and used to probe a maize endosperm cDNA library. A full-length cDNA clone encoding the 10 kDa zein was isolated by this procedure. The nucleotide sequence of the cDNA clone predicts a polypeptide of 129 amino acids, preceded by a signal peptide of 21 amino acids. The predicted polypeptide is unique in its extremely high content of methionine (22.5%). The maize inbred line BSSS-53, which has increased seed methionine due to overproduction of this protein, was compared to W23, a standard inbred line. Northern blot analysis showed that the relative RNA levels for the 10 kDa zein were enhanced in developing seeds of BSSS-53, providing a molecular basis for the overproduction of the protein. Southern blot analysis indicated that there are one or two 10 kDa zein genes in the maize genome.