We have previously isolated rho GDP dissociation inhibitor (rho DGI) from bovine brain and characterized it. Bovine rho GDI is a protein of a M(r) of 23,421 with 204 amino acids. rho GDI inhibits the GDP/GTP exchange reaction of post-translationally lipid-modified small GTP-binding proteins (G proteins) of the rho family, including the rho, rac, and cdc42 subfamilies, and keeps them in the GDP-bound inactive form. In the present study, we first purified rho GDI from the cytosol fraction of the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae and isolated its gene. Yeast rho GDI gene had an open reading frame without introns encoding a protein of a M(r) of 23,138 with 202 amino acids. Yeast rho GDI protein was 36% identical with bovine rho GDI. Yeast rho GDI expressed in Escherichia coli was active not only on yeast rho1 but also on mammalian rho family members which were post-translationally modified. Disruption of rho GDI did not induce apparent phenotypes, whereas overexpression of yeast or bovine rho GDI resulted in the inhibition of cell growth. These results indicate that rho GDI exists and regulates the function of the rho family members in yeast.