Wheat germin is a protein expressed during germination which possesses an oxalate oxidase activity. Germin-type oxalate oxidases have been extensively studied in monocotyledons (wheat and barley) where they are thought to have important functions for development, stress response and defence against pathogens. In contrast, almost nothing is known about the germin-like proteins found in dicotyledons, gymnosperms and myxomycetes. In this work, cDNA clones for three genes (ATGER1, ATGER2 and ATGER3) encoding germin-like proteins, initially characterized as expressed sequence tags (ESTs), from Arabidopsis thaliana cDNA libraries were further characterized. In addition, we isolated and sequenced a Brassica napus cDNA which was strongly homologous to the cDNA for ATGER1. Sequence analysis and secondary structure predictions of the proteins encoded by these cDNAs showed that they possess all the characteristic features of members of the germin family and of the germin/seed globulins/sucrose binding protein superfamily. Sequence comparisons and mapping demonstrated the existence of at least two different gene families in the A. thaliana genome encoding a minimum of three genes for germins. These three genes have been mapped in three different location on the Arabidopsis genome. By northern blot hybridizations we found that these genes are differentially regulated. ATGER1 was expressed during germination, like wheat germin, but also in leaves whereas ATGER2 transcripts were exclusively found in developing embryos, like wheat pseudo-germin. ATGER3 mRNAs were found in leaves and flowers and their abundance was shown to vary during the circadian cycle.