In several organisms D-cysteine desulfhydrase (D-CDes) activity (EC 184.108.40.206) was measured; this enzyme decomposes D-cysteine into pyruvate, H2S, and NH3. A gene encoding a putative D-CDes protein was identified in Arabidopsis thaliana (L) Heynh. based on high homology to an Escherichia coli protein called YedO that has D-CDes activity. The deduced Arabidopsis protein consists of 401 amino acids and has a molecular mass of 43.9 kDa. It contains a pyridoxal-5'-phosphate binding site. The purified recombinant mature protein had a Km for D-cysteine of 0.25 mm. Only D-cysteine but not L-cysteine was converted by D-CDes to pyruvate, H2S, and NH3. The activity was inhibited by aminooxy acetic acid and hydroxylamine, inhibitors specific for pyridoxal-5'-phosphate dependent proteins, at low micromolar concentrations. The protein did not exhibit 1-aminocyclopropane-1-carboxylate deaminase activity (EC 220.127.116.11) as homologous bacterial proteins. Western blot analysis of isolated organelles and localization studies using fusion constructs with the green fluorescent protein indicated an intracellular localization of the nuclear encoded D-CDes protein in the mitochondria. D-CDes RNA levels increased with proceeding development of Arabidopsis but decreased in senescent plants; D-CDes protein levels remained almost unchanged in the same plants whereas specific D-CDes activity was highest in senescent plants. In plants grown in a 12-h light/12-h dark rhythm D-CDes RNA levels were highest in the dark, whereas protein levels and enzyme activity were lower in the dark period than in the light indicating post-translational regulation. Plants grown under low sulfate concentration showed an accumulation of D-CDes RNA and increased protein levels, the D-CDes activity was almost unchanged. Putative in vivo functions of the Arabidopsisd-CDes protein are discussed.