A characteristic feature of early zygote development in Chlamydomonas is the selective degradation of chloroplast DNA from the mating type minus parent. The zygote-specific gene cluster ezy-1 is linked to the mating type locus and is transcribed almost immediately upon zygote formation. We show here that the acidic Ezy-1 polypeptide is rapidly transported to both the plus and minus chloroplasts, where it interacts with each chloroplast nucleoid. Expression of ezy-1 is selectively inhibited when plus, but not minus, gametes are briefly ultraviolet irradiated just prior to mating, a treatment known to disrupt the uniparental inheritance of chloroplast traits. We propose that the Ezy-1 polypeptide participates in the destruction of the minus chloroplast DNA in zygotes and thus the uniparental inheritance of chloroplast traits. The ezy-1 gene represents a valuable molecular probe for dissecting mechanisms underlying organelle inheritance.