A clone for an embryoid-abundant, early cysteine-labeled metallothionein (EcMt) gene has been isolated from a wheat pollen embryoid cDNA library. The transcript of this gene was only expressed in embryogenic microspores, pollen embryoids, and developing zygotic embryos of wheat. Accumulation of the EcMt mRNA showed a direct and positive correlation with an increase of the plant hormone, abscisic acid (ABA) in developing pollen embryoids. Treating cultures with an inhibitor of ABA biosynthesis, fluridone, suppressed not only ABA accumulation but also the appearance of the EcMt gene transcript and the ability of microspores to form embryoids. These results suggest that the EcMt gene may act as a molecular marker for pollen embryogenesis because ABA biosynthesis is accompanied by the increased expression of the EcMt transcript that coincides with the differentiation of pollen embryoids in wheat anther cultures.