A novel gene for alternative oxidase (AOX) was isolated from rice (Oryza sativa L.) and characterized. The deduced amino acid sequence of the novel AOX gene contains features that are conserved among other AOXs. This AOX gene was designated AOX1c based on a phylogenetic analysis of the AOX genes. Northern hybridization analyses revealed that AOX1c and AOX1a/AOX1b transcripts accumulated differently in various rice organs and rice seedlings under low temperature conditions. AOX1c mRNA was mainly present in young leaves under constant light, mature leaves and panicles after heading, but it was not detected in young etiolated leaves and young roots of seedlings or young panicles. On the other hand, the mRNAs of the rice AOX1a and AOX1b genes were mainly present in young roots and mature leaves. Under low temperature conditions, the steady-state mRNA levels of the rice AOX1a and AOX1b genes clearly increased with time but the rice AOX1c gene was apparently not responsive to low temperature. The rice AOX gene family and differences in their regulation are discussed.