Transcription factors belonging to the R2R3-MYB family contain the related helix-turn-helix repeats R2 and R3. The authors isolated partial cDNA and/or genomic clones of 78 R2R3-MYB genes from Arabidopsis thaliana and found accessions corresponding to 31 Arabidopsis genes of this class in databanks, seven of which were not represented in the authors' collection. Therefore, there are at least 85, and probably more than 100, R2R3-MYB genes present in the Arabidopsis thaliana genome, representing the largest regulatory gene family currently known in plants. In contrast, no more than three R2R3-MYB genes have been reported in any organism from other phyla. DNA-binding studies showed that there are differences but also frequent overlaps in binding specificity among plant R2R3-MYB proteins, in line with the distinct but often related functions that are beginning to be recognized for these proteins. This large-sized gene family may contribute to the regulatory flexibility underlying the developmental and metabolic plasticity displayed by plants.