In order to isolate glucose-starvation-related cDNAs in maize (Zea mays L.) root tips, a cDNA library was constructed with poly(A)+ mRNA from 24 h starved root tips. After differential screening of the library, we isolated six different cDNAs (named pZSS2 and pZSS7) which were expressed during glucose starvation. Time course analysis revealed that maximum expression of five of these genes occurs 30 h after the onset of the starvation treatment. On the contrary, the expression of mRNAs corresponding to pZSS4 was maximal at an early stage of starvation and then dramatically decreased. The expression of this gene did not seem to be specific for glucose starvation. The pattern of induction of the genes corresponding to pZSS2, pZSS3, pZSS5, pZSS6 and pZSS7 revealed that non-metabolizable sugars such as L-glucose and mannitol induce mRNA transcription similarly to glucose starvation. When D-glucose or any other metabolizable sugar was supplied, the level of transcripts was reduced. Nucleotide sequence analyses of the six cDNAs allowed identification of five of them by comparison with sequence data bases. The protein encoded by clone pZSS2 is analogous to a wound-induced protein from barley. Clones pZSS4 to pZSS7 encode, respectively, a transmembrane protein, a cysteine protease, a metallothionein-like protein and a chymotrypsin/subtilisin-like protease inhibitor. Clone pZSS3 shares no significant homology with any known sequence.