A cDNA coding for a birch pollen allergen, Bet v III, with significant sequence homology to Ca2+ binding proteins was isolated from an expression cDNA library using serum IgE from a patient who was allergic to pollen. The deduced amino acid sequence of the pollen allergen contained three typical Ca2+ binding sites. Peptides mimicking the Ca2+ binding sites of Bet v III were synthesized and shown to bind 45Ca in blot overlays. The binding of patients' IgE to the recombinant allergen depended on the native protein conformation and protein-bound Ca2+. Depletion of Ca2+ led to a reversible loss of the IgE binding thus representing a conformational IgE epitope adopted by a polypeptide upon Ca2+ binding. By RNA hybridization it was demonstrated that Bet v III is expressed preferentially in mature pollen. Bet v III therefore represents a pollen allergen which because of its unique structural features also belongs to a novel class of Ca2+ binding proteins.