Chloroplast glyceraldehyde-3-phosphate dehydrogenase (GAPDH) is composed of two different subunits, GapA and GapB. cDNA clones containing the entire coding sequences of the cytosolic precursors for GapA from pea and for GapB from pea and spinach have been identified, sequenced and the derived amino acid sequences have been compared to the corresponding sequences from tobacco, maize and mustard. These comparisons show that GapB differs from GapA in about 20% of its amino acid residues and by the presence of a flexible and negatively charged C-terminal extension, possibly responsible for the observed association of the enzyme with chloroplast envelopes in vitro. This C-terminal extension (29 or 30 residues) may be susceptible to proteolytic cleavage thereby leading to a conversion of chloroplast GAPDH isoenzyme I into isoenzyme II. Evolutionary rate comparisons at the amino acid sequence level show that chloroplast GapA and GapB evolve roughly two-fold slower than their cytosolic counterpart GapC. GapA and GapB transit peptides evolve about 10 times faster than the corresponding mature subunits. They are relatively long (68 and 83 residues for pea GapA and spinach GapB respectively) and share a similar amino acid framework with other chloroplast transit peptides.