Proliferating-cell nuclear antigen (PCNA), also known as cyclin, is synthesized in proliferative cells and recently was identified as DNA polymerase-delta auxiliary protein. In this paper, the association of PCNA to the proliferative cells of plants was analysed using both autoantibodies to PCNA obtained from a patient with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) and murine monoclonal antibodies. By immunohistochemical analysis, nuclei of cells around the growing point in soybean root tips reacted strongly with autoantibodies to PCNA in the serum from a patient with SLE. The plant PCNA in root tip cells was purified by ammonium sulfate fractionation, DEAE chromatography, and affinity chromatography. The partially purified plant PCNA was tested by immunoblotting and a 34 kD polypeptide reacted with both the human anti-PCNA autoantibody and a mouse monoclonal antibody against human PCNA (TOB 7). In addition, the purified plant PCNA reacted with both antibodies in enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA). The binding of anti-PCNA serum to the animal PCNA was blocked by the plant PCNA in this ELISA. The association of PCNA with growing cells in plants was further confirmed by quantitative sandwich type ELISA using two murine monoclonal antibodies to PCNA, TOB7 and TO17. Those results suggested that PCNA in both plant and animal cells had the same immunological and biochemical characteristics and the plant PCNA might play an important role in cell growth, existing as it does in proliferating plant cells. The concentration of PCNA in soybean germ extract before germination was less than 5 ng ml-1 (protein concentration, 6.8 mg ml-1), but that of the root tip stem including the growing point increased to 887 ng ml-1 (protein concentration 3.8 mg ml-1) in the second day after germination.