We have identified cDNA clones encoding branching enzyme-I (BE-I) from a maize kernel cDNA library. The combined nucleotide sequence of the cDNAs indicates that maize BE-I is initially synthesized as a precursor protein with a putative 64-residue transit peptide at the amino terminus, and that the mature enzyme contains 759 amino acid residues with a calculated molecular mass of 86,236 Da. The four regions, which constitute the catalytic site of amylolytic enzymes, are conserved in the sequences of BE-I and bacterial branching enzymes. This result demonstrates that branching enzyme belongs to a family of the amylolytic enzymes. The BE-I gene is highly expressed in the early stages of kernel development, and the level of the message concentration decreases slowly as kernel maturation proceeds.