NADPH: protochlorophyllide oxidoreductase (pchlide reductase, EC 22.214.171.124) catalyzes the light-dependent reduction of protochlorophyllide in higher plants. Cloned cDNAs encoding two distinct pchlide reductases were isolated from a lambda gt11 library constructed from poly(A)+ RNA prepared from the cotyledons of dark-grown white pine (Pinus strobus) seedlings and a nuclear gene (lpcr) analogous to one of these cDNAs has been characterized from loblolly pine (P. taeda). The pine gene encodes an approximately 43 kDa precursor polypeptide consisting of a 334-amino acid mature protein and a 66-amino acid transit peptide. The deduced primary structures for the pine proteins are highly homologous to those reported from monocots and dicots. The coding portion of the pine lpcr gene is interrupted by four introns. The placement of these introns within the pine lpcr gene is identical to that observed in pea (Pisum sativum), suggesting conservation in gene organization between dicot and gymnosperm species. Western blot analysis using polyclonal antiserum against oat pchlide reductase detected in extracts of dark-grown pine cotyledons a single immunoreactive protein, which declined in abundance during a 48 h period of illumination with white light. Cotyledons of dark-grown seedlings were also found to accumulate high levels of pchlide reductase mRNA; however, little or no change in the steady-state levels of mRNA encoding pchlide reductase was observed in these tissues following illumination. Stem tissue of dark-grown seedlings did not contain significant levels of pchlide reductase mRNA, whereas stems of light-grown plants of the same age accumulated substantial amounts of the message. These results suggest that light and the developmental age of the tissue affect regulation of lpcr expression in pine.