A mutant of Arabidopsis that accumulates a high level of red pigments within the seed coat has been isolated from a population of T-DNA-transformed plants. Genetic analysis revealed that the mutation is recessive and affects maternal seed tissues only. Due to the color of the immature seeds, this mutation was named banyuls (ban). Pigments accumulated continuously from early seed development to the desiccation stage in the seed coat of the mutant. The phenotype of the double mutant banyuls/ transparent testa confirmed the flavonoid nature of the pigments and enabled assignment of the regulatory TT (Transparent Testa) genes to two groups according to their epistatic relationship to ban. The flavonoid content of germinated ban and wild-type seedlings was similar. Plants harbouring the ban mutation had a normal formation of trichomes and root hairs and were not affected in their responses to light. The seeds of ban plants exhibited reduced germination compared to wild-type which may be a direct consequence of the high level of pigments. These results suggest that BANYULS functions as a negative regulator of flavonoid biosynthesis that prevents accumulation of pigments in the seed coat during early embryogenesis in Arabidopsis.