A redox-active compound has been purified from the barley powdery mildew fungus Blumeria ( Erysiphe ) graminis f. sp. hordei. A combination of spectrophotometry, MS and NMR has identified it as 3-hydroxykynurenine (3OHKyn). This compound, never previously detected in any fungus or pathogen, is best known for its role in vertebrate cataracts. It is found abundantly in developing and germinating spores and also in runner hyphae. Two roles for 3OHKyn are discussed: first, the presence of active oxygen species would enable 3OHKyn to cross-link the spore chemically with the plant. Secondly, it may be acting as an UV protectant and an antioxidant.