The p34cdc2 protein kinase is a key component in the regulation of the eukaryotic cell cycle and has been conserved during evolution. We have isolated cDNA clones corresponding to a cdc2 gene (cdc2Pa) from the conifer Norway spruce, Picea abies (L.) Karst. The deduced amino acid sequence is 85-90% identical to p34cdc2 homologues from other plants, contains eleven subdomains characteristic for the protein kinase family, and three sequence motifs specific for the cdc2 protein kinases. A partial genomic clone of cdc2Pa reveals two introns at positions identical to intron positions in Arabidopsis thaliana cdc2a. A Southern blot analysis shows that cdc2Pa is a single-copy gene belonging to a family of about 10 related genes. Partial genomic sequences of six of the genes in this family (86-92% identical to cdc2Pa) show distinct features of processed retropseudogenes. These lack introns and contain deletions, insertions and/or non-silent point mutations. This result is consistent with the hypothesis that processed retropseudogenes in plants may be common among genes expressed in the apical meristem, that is, in cells which have the potential to take part in the formation of reproductive organs. Although cdc2Pa transcripts were abundant in the epicotyl and thus likely in the apical meristem, we observed no strict coupling of expression to cell division in embryos and seedlings.