We have cloned and characterized the Dictyostelium discoideum repE gene, a homolog of the human xeroderma pigmentosum (XP) group E gene which encodes a UV-damaged DNA binding protein. The repE gene maps to chromosome 4 and it is the first gene identified in Dictyostelium that is homologous to those involved in nucleotide excision repair and their related XP diseases in humans. The predicted protein encodes a leucine zipper motif. The repE gene is not expressed by mitotically dividing cells, and repE mRNA is first detected during the aggregation phase of development when the cells have ceased dividing and replicating genomic DNA. The mRNA level plateaus by the time the developing cells have entered multicellular aggregates and remains at the same steady-state level for the remainder of development. In addition, we have demonstrated that the level of mRNA is very low in developing cells. These observations suggest that repE may play a regulatory role in development. The data indicate that potential developmental roles for XP-related genes can be profitably studied in this system.