The isolation and characterisation by DNA sequencing of a low molecular weight (LMW) glutenin gene from wheat is described. The deduced protein contains a signal peptide, a central repetitive region rich in proline and glutamine and N and C terminal non-repetitive domains, similar to other prolamins. A detailed comparison of the C terminal domain of 20 prolamin genes enabled us to divide them into 4 families. The LMW glutenin family is distinct from the alpha, beta- and gamma-gliadin families of wheat and is closest to the B hordein genes of barley. This and other comparisons were also used to assess the pattern of genetic variation among prolamin sequences and to provide a molecular basis for the interpretation of prolamin size polymorphism. The 5' flanking fragment of the isolated gene was previously shown to direct endosperm-specific expression of a reporter gene in transgenic tobacco. Evidence is provided that the isolated gene is also active in wheat and its transcription initiation site was determined. Features of the gene which may be relevant to its activity are discussed.