The key regulatory enzyme in the biosynthetic pathway of the plant hormone ethylene is 1-aminocyclopropane-1-carboxylic acid (ACC) synthase (EC 188.8.131.52). It catalyzes the conversion of S-adenosylmethionine to ACC, the precursor of ethylene. We isolated complementary DNA sequences, ptACC2 and ptACC4, for two distinct and differentially regulated ACC synthase mRNAs expressed in ripe tomato fruit. The authenticity of the clones has been confirmed by expression experiments in E. coli. The predicted size of the encoded polypeptides (54,690 and 53,519 Da) is similar to that of the primary in vitro translation products and to the proteins found in vivo. The sequence of the gene encoding one mRNA, LE-ACC2, has been determined and its transcription initiation site defined. Four additional genes, LE-ACC1A, LE-ACC1B, LE-ACC3 and LE-ACC4, have also been identified and the sequence of their coding regions determined. The LE-ACC1A and LE-ACC1B genes are adjacent to each other and are convergently transcribed. Their encoded polypeptides are 96% identical; the identity of the other polypeptides to each other varies between 50 and 70%. The proteins predicted to be encoded by the ACC synthase genes so far cloned from tomato and zucchini contain 11 of the 12 conserved amino acid residues found in various aminotransferases involved in the binding of the substrate and the cofactor pyridoxal-5'-phosphate. The data indicate that ACC synthase is encoded by a divergent multigene family in tomato that encodes proteins related to aminotransferases.