As one component of a maize genome project, we report the analysis of a number of randomly selected cDNAs, by a combination of measuring mRNA expression, 'single-pass' sequencing (SPS), and genome mapping. Etiolated seedling (490) and membrane-free polysomal endosperm cDNA clones (576) were evaluated for their transcription levels by hybridizing with a probe prepared from total mRNA and categorized as corresponding to abundantly or rarely expressed mRNAs and as either constitutive or tissue-specific. A total 313 clones from the two libraries were submitted to 'single-pass' sequencing from the presumed 5' end of the mRNA and the nucleotide sequence compared with the GenBank database. About 61% of the clones showed no significant similarities within GenBank, 14% of the clones exhibited a high degree of similarity, while the remaining 25% exhibited a lesser degree of similarity. The chromosomal location of more than 300 clones was determined by RFLP mapping using standard populations. The results demonstrate that a combination of analyses provides synergistic information in eventually deducing the actual function of these types of clones.