The genome of Arabidopsis thaliana (L.) Heynh. was shown to contain a beta-tubulin gene family consisting of at least seven distinct genes and/or pseudogenes. Genomic clones of five different beta-tubulin genes and/or pseudogenes have been isolated and partially characterized. The complete nucleotide sequence of one A. thaliana beta-tubulin gene, designated beta 1, has been determined. A comparison of the predicted amino acid sequence of the A. thaliana beta 1-tubulin with the predicted sequences of beta-tubulins of animals and protists indicated that this plant beta-tubulin shows a high degree of homology with other beta-tubulins. However, the beta 1-tubulin contains a novel single amino acid insertion at position 41. The A. thaliana beta 1-tubulin gene is transcribed, as shown by RNA blot hybridization and S1 nuclease analyses. A 3'-noncoding gene-specific probe was used to examine the expression of the beta 1-tubulin gene in leaves, roots, and flowers by blot hybridization analyses of total RNA isolated from these tissues. The results showed that the transcript of the beta 1 gene accumulates predominantly in roots, with low levels of transcript in flowers, and barely detectable levels of transcript in leaves. A second genomic clone was shown to contain two essentially identical beta-tubulin coding sequences in direct tandem orientation and separated by 1 kb.