GLOBOSA (GLO) is a homeotic gene whose mutants show sepaloid petals and carpelloid stamens. The similarity of Glo mutants to those of the DEFICIENS (DEFA) gene suggests that the two genes have comparable functions in floral morphogenesis. The GLO cDNA has been cloned by virtue of its homology to the MADS-box, a conserved DNA-binding domain also contained in the DEFA gene. We have determined the structure of the wild type GLO gene as well as of several glo mutant alleles which contain transposable element insertions responsible for somatic and germinal instability of Glo mutants. Analyses of the temporal and spatial expression patterns of the DEFA and GLO genes during development of wild type flowers and in flowers of various stable and unstable defA and glo alleles indicate independent induction of DEFA and GLO transcription. In contrast, organ-specific up-regulation of the two genes in petals and stamens depends on expression of both DEFA and GLO. In vitro DNA-binding studies were used to demonstrate that the DEFA and GLO proteins specifically bind, as a heterodimer, to motifs in the promoters of both genes. A model is presented which proposes both combinatorial and cross-regulatory interactions between the DEFA and GLO genes during petal and stamen organogenesis in the second and third whorls of the flower. The function of the two genes controlling determinate growth of the floral meristem is also discussed.