The isolation, characterization and regulation of expression of a maize silk-specific gene is described. zmgrp5 (Zea mays glycine-rich protein 5) encodes a 187 amino acid glycine-rich protein that displays developmentally regulated silk-specific expression. Northern, Western, in situ mRNA hybridization and transient gene expression analyses indicate that zmgrp5 is expressed in silk hair and in cells of the vascular bundle and pollen tube transmitting tissue elements. The protein is secreted into the extracellular matrix and is localized in the cell wall fraction mainly through interactions mediated by covalent disulphide bridges. Taken together, these results suggest that the protein may play a role in maintaining silk structure during development. This is the first documented isolation of a stigma-specific gene from maize, an important agronomic member of the Poaceae family.