Salt stress imposes severe limitations on plant growth, however, the extent of growth reduction depends upon the soil salinity level and the plant species. One of the mechanisms employed by salt tolerant plants is the effective vacuolar compartmentalization of sodium. The sequestration of sodium into the vacuole occurs by the operation of a Na+/H+ antiport located at the tonoplast. Evidence for a plant vacuolar Na+/H+ antiport has been demonstrated in tissues, intact vacuoles and isolated tonoplast vesicles. In sugar beet cell suspensions, the activity of the vacuolar Na+/H+ antiport increased with increasing NaCl concentrations in the growth medium. This increased activity was correlated with the increased synthesis of a 170 kDa tonoplast polypeptide. In vivo labelling of tonoplast proteins showed the enhanced synthesis of the 170 kDa polypeptide not only upon exposure of the cells to salt, but also when the cells were grown in the presence of amiloride. Exposure of the cells to amiloride also resulted in increased vacuolar Na+/H+ antiport activity. Polyclonal antibodies raised against the 170 kDa polypeptide almost completely inhibited the antiport activity, suggesting the association of this protein with the plant vacuolar Na+/H+ antiport. Antibodies against the Na+/H+ antiport-associated polypeptide were used to screen a Beta lambda ZAP expression library. A partial clone of 1.65 kb was sequenced and found to encode a polypeptide with a putative transmembrane domain and a large hydrophilic C terminus. This clone showed no homology to any previously cloned gene at either the nucleic acid or the amino acid level.