cDNA clones encoding a novel 3-ketoacyl-ACP synthase (KAS) have been isolated from Cuphea. The amino acid sequence of this enzyme is different from the previously characterized classes of KASs, designated KAS I and III, and similar to those designated as KAS II. To define the acyl chain specificity of this enzyme, we generated transgenic Brassica plants over-expressing the cDNA encoded protein in a seed specific manner. Expression of this enzyme in transgenic Brassica seeds which normally do not produce medium chain fatty acids does not result in any detectable modification of the fatty acid profile. However, co-expression of the Cuphea KAS with medium chain specific thioesterases, capable of production of either 12:0 or 8:0/10:0 fatty acids in seed oil, strongly enhances the levels of these medium chain fatty acids as compared with seed oil of plants expressing the thioesterases alone. By contrast, co-expression of the Cuphea KAS along with an 18:0/18.1-ACP thioesterase does not result in any detectable modification of the fatty acids. These data indicate that the Cuphea KAS reported here has a different acyl-chain specificity to the previously characterized KAS I, II and III. Therefore, we designate this enzyme KAS IV, a medium chain specific condensing enzyme.