Carnation flower petal senescence is associated with the expression of specific senescence-related mRNAs, several of which were previously cloned. The cDNA clone pSR8 represents a transcript which accumulates specifically in senescing flower petals in response to ethylene. Here we report the structural characterization of this cDNA. A second cDNA clone was isolated based on shared sequence homology with pSR8. This clone, pSR8.4, exhibited an overlapping restriction endonuclease map with pSR8 and contained an additional 300 nucleotides. Primer extension analysis revealed the combined cDNAs to be near full-length and the transcript to accumulate in senescing petals. Analysis of the nucleotide sequence of SR8 cDNAs revealed an open reading frame of 220 amino acids sufficient to encode a 25 kDa polypeptide. Comparison of the deduced polypeptide sequence of pSR8 with other peptide sequences revealed significant similarity with glutathione s-transferases from a variety of organisms. The predicted polypeptide sequence shared 44%, 53% and 52% homology with GSTs from maize, Drosophila and man, respectively. We discuss our results in relation to the biochemistry of flower petal senescence and the possible role of glutathione s-transferase in this developmental process.