The most abundant alpha-amylase (EC 18.104.22.168) in shoots and cotyledons from pea (Pisum sativum L.) seedlings was purified 6700-and 850-fold, respectively, utilizing affinity (amylose and cycloheptaamylose) and gel filtration chromatography and ultrafiltration. This alpha-amylase contributed at least 79 and 15% of the total amylolytic activity in seedling cotyledons and shoots, respectively. The enzyme was identified as an alpha-amylase by polarimetry, substrate specificity, and end product analyses. The purified alpha-amylases from shoots and cotyledons appear identical. Both are 43.5 kilodalton monomers with pls of 4.5, broad pH activity optima from 5.5 to 6.5, and nearly identical substrate specificities. They produce identical one-dimensional peptide fingerprints following partial proteolysis in the presence of SDS. Calcium is required for activity and thermal stability of this amylase. The enzyme cannot attack maltodextrins with degrees of polymerization below that of maltotetraose, and hydrolysis of intact starch granules was detected only after prolonged incubation. It best utilizes soluble starch as substrate. Glucose and maltose are the major end products of the enzyme with amylose as substrate. This alpha-amylase appears to be secreted, in that it is at least partially localized in the apoplast of shoots. The native enzyme exhibits a high degree of resistance to degradation by proteinase K, trypsin/chymostrypsin, thermolysin, and Staphylococcus aureus V8 protease. It does not appear to be a high-mannose-type glycoprotein. Common cell wall constituents (e.g. beta-glucan) are not substrates of the enzyme. A very low amount of this alpha-amylase appears to be associated with chloroplasts; however, it is unclear whether this activity is contamination or alpha-amylase which is integrally associated with the chloroplast.