Treatment of developing bean cotyledons with the inhibitor of N-glycosylation tunicamycin enhanced the synthesis of at least two polypeptides with molecular mass 78 kDa and 97 kDa. Pulse-chase experiments and subcellular fractionation indicated that these are endoplasmic reticulum (ER) residents. The 78 kDa protein is a major component of the ER protein fraction and, by N-terminal sequencing, was identified as a bean homolog of the mammalian 78 kDa glucose-regulated protein (GRP78). This is a molecular chaperone that is probably involved in the folding and oligomerization of several animal and yeast proteins in the ER. When newly synthesized storage glycoproteins phaseolin, phytohemagglutinin or alpha-amylase inhibitor were immunoprecipitated from an ER preparation of tunicamycin-treated tissue, the GRP78 homolog was always co-precipitated. Bound GRP78 homolog could be released by ATP treatment. These results suggest that, at least when glycosylation is inhibited, this protein plays a role in the early stages of the synthesis of vacuolar storage proteins.