Complementary DNA clones and a corresponding nuclear gene (lpcr) encoding the NADPH-dependent protochlorophyllide oxidoreductase (pchlide reductase, EC 18.104.22.168) have been characterized from pea (Pisum sativum L.). The pea lpcr gene encodes a 43,118 Da precursor polypeptide comprised of a transit peptide of 64 amino acids and a mature protein of 336 amino acids. The coding portion of the gene is interrupted by four introns, two of which are located within the transit peptide coding portion of the gene. The deduced primary structure for the pea protein is similar to those reported for Arabidopsis and two monocot species. Northern blot analysis revealed little to no decrease in steady-state levels of mRNA encoding the enzyme in etiolated leaves illuminated with continuous white light for up to 48 h. In contrast, western blot analysis showed that the major immunoreactive species present in whole leaf extracts decreased to nearly undetectable levels during this same 48 h period. These results suggest that pchlide reductase activity in pea is primarily regulated post-transcriptionally, most likely at the level of translation initiation/elongation or protein turnover.