A third nuclear gene encoding a bacteriophage T7-type RNA polymerase, NsRpoT-C, was isolated and characterized from Nicotiana sylvestris. The gene, NsRpoT-C, consists of 21 exons and 20 introns and encodes a polypeptide of 977 amino acid residues. The predicted NsRpoT-C protein shows the highest identity (72% amino acid identity) with Arabidopsis thaliana RpoT;3 which is a plastid-targeted protein. Surprisingly, comparison of the deduced amino acid sequence of NsRpoT-C with that of A. thaliana RpoT;3 predicted that the NsRpoT-C starts at a CUG triplet, a rare translation initiation codon. Transient expression assays in protoplasts from tobacco leaves demonstrated that the putative N-terminal transit peptide of NsRpoT-C encodes a targeting signal directing the protein into chloroplasts. This strongly suggests that NsRpoT-C functions as an RNA polymerase transcribing plastid-encoded genes. We have designated this protein NsRpoTp.