The Arabidopsis thaliana MALE STERILITY 2 (MS2) gene product is involved in male gametogenesis. The first abnormalities in pollen development of ms2 mutants are seen at the stage in microsporogenesis when microspores are released from tetrads. Expression of the MS2 gene is observed in tapetum of wild-type flowers at, and shortly after, the release of microspores from tetrads. The MS2 promoter controls GUS expression at a comparable stage in the tapetum of transgenic tobacco containing an MS2 promoter-GUS fusion. The occasional pollen grains produced by mutant ms2 plants have very thin pollen walls. They are also sensitive to acetolysis treatment, which is a test for the presence of an exine layer. The MS2 gene product shows sequence similarity to a jojoba protein that converts wax fatty acids to fatty alcohols. A possible function of the MS2 protein as a fatty acyl reductase in the formation of pollen wall substances is discussed.