We have characterized the structure and expression of a senescence-associated gene (sen1) of Arabidopsis thaliana. The protein-coding region of the gene consists of 5 exons encoding 182 amino acids. The encoded peptide shows noticeable similarity to the bacterial sulfide dehydrogenase and 81% identity to the peptide encoded by the radish din1 gene. The 5'-upstream region contains sequence motifs resembling the heat-shock- and ABA-responsive elements and the TCA motif conserved among stress-inducible genes. Examination of the expression patterns of the sen1 gene under various senescing conditions along with measurements of photochemical efficiency and of chlorophyll content revealed that the sen1 gene expression is associated with Arabidopsis leaf senescence. During the normal growth phase, the gene is strongly induced in leaves at 25 days after germination when inflorescence stems are 2-3 cm high, and then the mRNA level is maintained at a comparable level in naturally senescing leaves. In addition, dark-induced senescence of detached leaves or of leaves in planta resulted in a high-level induction of the gene. Expression of the sen1 gene was also strongly induced in leaves subjected to senescence by 0.1mM abscisic acid or 1 mM ethephon treatment. The induced expression of the gene by dark treatment was not significantly repressed by treatment with 0.1 mM cytokinin or 50 mM CaCl2 which delayed loss of chlorophyll but not that of photochemical efficiency.