The waxy (Wx) gene of rice encodes a granule-bound starch synthase (GBSS = waxy protein) required for the synthesis of amylose in endosperm. An analysis of Wx transcripts, Wx protein, and amylose content of 31 rice cultivars revealed that endosperm amylose and Wx protein contents are correlated with the ability of the cultivar to excise intron I from the leader sequence of the Wx transcript. Cultivars with high endosperm amylose content (group I) contain high levels of amylose, Wx protein, and the mature 2.3 kb Wx mRNA. Cultivars with intermediate amylose content (group II) produce substantial amounts of a large 3.3 kb Wx pre-mRNA, with intron I still present, in addition to the mature Wx mRNA, and intermediate levels of Wx protein. Glutinous rice (group III cultivars) contains no amylose, no Wx protein, and no mature Wx mRNA; only the incompletely spliced 3.3 kb Wx pre-mRNA is present in group III cultivars. Based on these results, it is hypothesized that the amylose content of rice endosperm is regulated at the level of Wx transcript processing, and, more specifically, at the stage of intron I excision from the Wx pre-mRNA.