The EMB 506 gene of Arabidopsis, required for the normal development of the embryo beyond the globular stage, has been cloned. The gene encodes a protein of predicted size 35 kDa that contains five ankyrin (ANK) repeats within the C terminal moiety. ANK repeats are conserved domains of 33 amino acids involved in specific recognition of protein partners. The EMB 506 protein was detected at different stages of silique development but accumulated preferentially in the mature cauline leaves. The rescue of homozygous emb 506 embryos by complementation with the wild-type sequence cDNA demonstrated that the emb mutation is a consequence of the T-DNA insertion and that integration and expression of the transgene occurred during gametogenesis and/or early embryo development. In addition to the drastic effect of the emb 506 mutation during embryo development, complementation experiments revealed another effect of the gene: emb 506 plants transformed with the wild-type EMB 506 sequence were able to produce viable seeds but showed a reduction of apical dominance and the presence of adventitious buds or bracts along the stem. This result supports the idea that genes essential for embryogenesis may also be required at other stages of the plant life cycle.