Higher plants contain a multigene family encoding proteins that share a highly conserved catalytic protein kinase domain about 70% identical to SHAGGY protein kinase (SGG) and glycogen synthase kinase-3 (GSK-3), respectively, from Drosophila and mammals. In this study we have characterized the structure and evolution of the Arabidopsis SHAGGY-related protein kinase (ASK) gene family. At least ten ASK genes are present per haploid genome of Arabidopsis. The genomic sequences of five ASK genes show a strikingly high conservation of intron positions and exon lengths. Phylogenetic analyses suggested that the Arabidopsis gene family contains at least three ancient classes of genes that diverged early in land plant evolution. The different classes may reflect specificity of substrates and/or biological functions. Eight out of the ten predicted ASK genes were mapped and shown to be dispersed over the five Arabidopsis chromosomes. A tentative model for the organization and evolution of the Arabidopsis ASK genes is presented.