Data presented here define five tomato phytochrome genes (PHY) and indicate the existence of additional PHY in the tomato genome. Portions of each gene, encoding amino acids 203 through 315 in a consensus amino acid sequence, were amplified by polymerase chain reaction. Four of these genes, PHYA, PHYB1, PHYB2 and PHYE, are members of previously identified PHY subfamilies, while the fifth, PHYF, is identified as a member of a new PHY subfamily. PHYA, PHYB1, PHYB2 and PHYE fragments encode amino acid sequences that share 88% to 98% sequence identity with their Arabidopsis counterparts. The PHYF fragment, however, encodes a polypeptide that shares only 65% to 74% sequence identity with previously identified Arabidopsis phytochromes. A phylogenetic analysis suggests that PHYF arose soon after, or perhaps prior to, the origin of angiosperms. This analysis leads to the prediction that PHYF might be widespread among angiosperms, including both monocotyledons and dicotyledons. Each of the five tomato PHY is expressed as a transcript of sufficient size to encode a full-length phytochrome apoprotein. Two PHYF transcripts, 4.4 and 4.7 kb in length, have been detected in 9-day-old light-grown seedlings, consistent with either multiple transcription start sites or differential processing. Analyses of genomic Southern blots hybridized with radiolabelled RNA probes derived from the five tomato PHY, as well as Arabidopsis PHYC, indicate that the tomato genome contains as many as 9 to 13 PHY. The tomato PHY family is apparently not only different from, but also larger than, the PHY family presently described for Arabidopsis.