Anthocyanidin reductase (ANR; EC 18.104.22.168) catalyzes a key step in the biosynthesis of proanthocyanidins (PAs; also known as condensed tannins), flavonoid metabolites responsible for the brown pigmentation of seeds. Here, two ANR genes (ANR1 and ANR2) from the seed coat of brown soybean (Glycine max (L.) Merr.) have been isolated and their enzymatic function confirmed for the reduction of cyanidin to (-)-epicatechin in vitro. Biochemical and genetic comparisons of soybean lines differing in seed coat color revealed three red-brown lines to exhibit major reductions in the amounts of soluble PAs in the seed coat compared to brown soybean lines. Two spontaneous mutants with red-brown grain color had reduced ANR1 gene expression in the seed coat, and an EMS-mutagenized red-brown mutant had nonsynonymous substitutions that resulted in slightly reduced ANR1 activity in vitro. These results suggest that defects in the ANR1 gene can be associated with red-brown soybean grain color. These results suggest that suppressing ANR1 gene expression or activity may be a rational approach toward engineering seed coat color to enable the visual identification of genetically modified soybean grains.