Although plants were the organisms of choice in several classical centromere studies, molecular and biochemical studies of plant centromeres have lagged behind those in model animal species. However, in the past several years, several centromeric repetitive DNA elements have been isolated in plant species and their roles in centromere function have been demonstrated. Most significantly, a Ty3/gypsy class of centromere-specific retrotransposons, the CR family, was discovered in the grass species. The CR elements are highly enriched in chromatin domains associated with CENH3, the centromere-specific histone H3 variant. CR elements as well as their flanking centromeric satellite DNA are actively transcribed in maize. These data suggest that the deposition of centromeric histones might be a transcription-coupled event.