Glycoproteins with asparagine-linked (N-linked) glycans occur in all eukaryotic cells. The function of their glycan moieties is one of the central problems in contemporary cell biology. N-glycosylation may modify physicochemical and biological protein properties such as conformation, degradation, intracellular sorting or secretion. We have isolated and characterized two allelic Arabidopsis mutants, gcs1-1 and gcs1-2, which produce abnormal shrunken seeds, blocked at the heart stage of development. The mutant seeds accumulate a low level of storage proteins, have no typical protein bodies, display abnormal cell enlargement and show occasional cell wall disruptions. The mutated gene has been cloned by T-DNA tagging. It codes for a protein homologous to animal and yeast alpha-glucosidase I, an enzyme that controls the first committed step for N-glycan trimming. Biochemical analyses have confirmed that trimming of the alpha1,2- linked glucosyl residue constitutive of the N-glycan precursor is blocked in this mutant. These results demonstrate the importance of N-glycan trimming for the accumulation of seed storage proteins, the formation of protein bodies, cell differentiation and embryo development.