Cyclins are the regulatory subunits of cyclin-dependent protein kinases. In investigations of the expression of a cyclin gene during maize endosperm development, we detected a cyclin transcript with a 63-bp deletion in the region encoding the conserved 'cyclin box' where cyclin interacts with p34cdc2, the catalytic domain of the cyclin-dependent protein kinase. Analysis of cDNA and genomic sequences, and other observations, indicated that the deletion was caused by alternative splicing of a retained intron in the normally spliced transcript. Whereas the normally spliced cyclin RNA was mitotically functional, as indicated by its ability to promote maturation of Xenopus oocytes, the alternatively spliced transcript was unable to promote maturation. In addition to maize endosperm, the alternatively spliced cyclin was detected in apical meristem, mature leaf, root tip and mature root.