The flowers of daylily (Hemerocallis x hybrida cv. Cradle Song) open at midnight, start to senesce 12 h later, and are completely senescent by the following midnight. Differential screening of a cDNA library constructed from tepals of flowers showing incipient senescence revealed 25 clones that were strongly up-regulated in senescent tepals. Re-screening and interactive Southern analysis of these clones revealed 3 families of up-regulated clones. Transcripts of one clone, SEN10, were not detectable at midnight, but increased dramatically as senescence proceeded. The derived amino acid sequence of the full-length cDNA (SEN102) has strong homology with cysteine proteases that have been reported from other plant tissues. The sequence contains a secretory signal peptide and a probable prosequence upstream of the mature protein. Amino acids critical to the active site and structure of cysteine proteases are conserved, and the C-terminus of the polypeptide has a unique putative endoplasmic reticulum retention signal -RDEL.