Using an 5'-AvaII fragment of the spinach (Spinacia oleracea L.) phosphate translocator cDNA as a probe for a hybridization screening of a pea (Pisum sativum L.) cDNA library we have cloned and sequenced a cDNA clone coding for the phosphate translocator precursor protein from pea chloroplasts. The full-length cDNA clone comprises 42 base pairs (bp) at the 5'-non-coding region, a 1206-bp coding region corresponding to a polypeptide of 402 amino-acid residues (relative molecular mass 43 671) and 244 bp at the non-coding 3'-region. Determination of the N-terminal sequence of the phosphate translocator from both pea and spinach chloroplasts revealed that the transit peptides consist of 72 and 80 amino-acid residues, respectively. These transit peptides are different from those of other chloroplastic transit peptides in that they both contain an amphiphilic α-helix which is located either in close proximity to the processing site in pea or at the N-terminus in spinach. The mature proteins from pea and spinach both contain about 87% identical amino-acid residues and about seven putative membrane-spanning α-helices. Some of these α-helices have an amphiphilic character and might serve to form a hydrophilic translocation channel through the membrane. The in-vitro synthesized pea precursor protein is directed to the chloroplast and inserted into the chloroplast envelope membrane.