Posttranslational core histone acetylation is established and maintained by histone acetyltransferases and deacetylases. Both have been identified as important transcriptional regulators in various eukaryotic systems. In contrast to nonplant systems where only RPD3-related histone deacetylases (HD) have been characterized so far, maize embryos contain three unrelated families of deacetylases (HD1A, HD1B, and HD2). Purification, cDNA cloning, and immunological studies identified the two maize histone deacetylase HD1B forms as close homologues of the RPD3-type deacetylase HDAC1. Unlike the other maize deacetylases, HD1A and nucleolar HD2, HD1B copurified as a complex with a protein related to the retinoblastoma-associated protein, Rbap46. Two HD1B mRNA species could be detected on RNA blots, encoding proteins of 58 kDa (HD1B-I) and 51 kDa (HD1B-II). HD1B-I (zmRpd3) represents the major enzyme form as judged from RNA and immunoblots. Levels of expression of HD1B-I and -II mRNA differ during early embryo germination; HD1B-I mRNA and protein are present during the entire germination pathway, even in the quiescent embryo, whereas HD1B-II expression starts when meristematic cells enter S-phase of the cell cycle. In line with previous results, HD1B exists as soluble and chromatin-bound enzyme forms. In vivo treatment of meristematic tissue with the deacetylase inhibitor HC toxin does not affect the expression of the three maize histone deacetylases, whereas it causes downregulation of histone acetyltransferase B.