The unique C-terminal repeat domain (CTD) of the largest subunit (IIa) of eukaryotic RNA polymerase II consists of multiple repeats of the heptapeptide consensus sequence Tyr-Ser-Pro-Thr-Ser-Pro-Ser. The number of repeats ranges from 26 in yeast to 42 in Drosophila to 52 in mouse. The CTD is essential in vivo, but its structure and function are not yet understood. The CTD can be phosphorylated at multiple serine and threonine residues, generating a form of the largest subunit (II0) with markedly reduced mobility in NaDodSO4/polyacrylamide gels. To investigate this extensive phosphorylation, which presumably modulates functional properties of RNA polymerase II, we began efforts to purify a specific CTD kinase. Using CTD-containing fusion proteins as substrates, we have purified a CTD kinase from the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae. The enzyme extensively phosphorylates the CTD portion of both the fusion proteins and intact subunit IIa, producing products with reduced electrophoretic mobilities. The properties of the CTD kinase suggest that it is distinct from previously described protein kinases. Analogous activities were also detected in Drosophila and HeLa cell extracts.