Flavonols are important co-pigments in flower colour and are also essential for pollen tube growth. In petunia, flavonol synthesis is controlled by the Fl locus. Flavonol synthase (FLS) belongs to the 2-oxoglutarate-dependent dioxygenase family. Dioxygenase gene fragments were amplified by PCR on cDNA made from FlFl and flfl flowers using degenerate primers designed from conserved dioxygenase sequences. A petunia petal cDNA library was screened for clones that hybridized more strongly to the Fl PCR products than the fl PCR products. A full-length cDNA clone identified by this screening exhibited FLS activity when expressed in yeast. FLS gene expression is developmentally regulated during flower development. Antisense expression of an FLS cDNA clone in petunia markedly reduced flavonol synthesis in petals. RFLP mapping showed that the FLS gene is linked to Fl, suggesting that Fl is the structural gene for FLS.