Development of plastids into chloroplasts, the organelles of photosynthesis, is triggered by light. However, little is known of the factors involved in the complex coordination of light-induced plastid gene expression, which must be directed by both nuclear and plastid genomes. We have isolated an Arabidopsis mutant, abc1, with impaired chloroplast development, which results in a pale green leaf phenotype. The mutated nuclear gene encodes a sigma factor, SigB, presumably for the eubacterial-like plastid RNA polymerase. Our results provide direct evidence that a nuclear-derived prokaryotic-like SigB protein, plays a critical role in the coordination of the two genomes for chloroplast development.