The first member of a novel subfamily of ubiquitin-conjugating E2-proteins was cloned from a cDNA library of Arabidopsis thaliana. Genomic blots indicate that this gene family (AtUBC2) consists of two members and is distinct from AtUBC1, the only other E2 enzyme known from this species to date (M.L. Sullivan and R.D. Vierstra, Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 86 (1989) 9861-9865). The cDNA sequence of AtUBC2-1 extends over 794 bp which would encode a protein of 161 amino acids and a calculated molecular mass of 18.25 kDa. The protein encoded by AtUBC2-1 is shown to accept 125I-ubiquitin from wheat E1 enzymes, when expressed from Escherichia coli hosts as fusion protein carrying N-terminal extensions. It is deubiquitinated in the presence of lysine and, by these criteria, is considered a functional E2 enzyme.