Calcium-dependent protein kinases (CDPKs) belong to a unique family of enzymes containing a single polypeptide chain with a kinase domain at the amino terminus and a putative calcium-binding EF hands structure at the carboxyl terminus. From Arabidopsis thaliana, we have cloned three distinct cDNA sequences encoding CDPKs, which were designated as atcdpk6, atcdpk9 and atcdpk19. The full-length cDNA sequences for atcdpk6, atcdpk9 and atcdpk19 encode proteins with a molecular weight of 59343, 55376 and 59947, respectively. Recombinant atCDPK6 and atCDPK9 proteins were fully active as kinases whose activities were induced by Ca2+. Biochemical studies suggested the presence of an autoinhibitory domain in the junction between the kinase domain and the EF hands structure. Serial deletion of the four EF hands of atCDPK6 demonstrated that the integrity of the four EF hands was crucial to the Ca2+ response. All the three atcdpk genes were ubiquitiously expressed in the plant as demonstrated by RNA gel blot experiments. Comparison of the genomic sequences suggested that the three cdpk genes have evolved differently. Using antibodies against atCDPK6 and atCDPK9 for immunohistochemical experiments, CDPKs were found to be expressed in specific cell types in a temporally and developmentally regulated manner.