Diurnal oscillations of steady-state mRNA levels encoding the chlorophyll a/b-binding proteins were monitored inLycopersicon esculentum, Glycine max, Phaseolus vulgaris, P. aureus, P. coccineus, Pisum sativum, Sinapis alba, Hordeum vulgare, Triticum aestivum andZea mays. In these plant speciescab mRNA accumulation increases and decreases periodically indicating i) that the expression of the genes for chlorophyll a/b-binding proteins (cab genes) is controlled by a circadian rhythm, and ii) that the rhythm is widely distributed among monocotyledonous and dicotyledonous plant species. A detailed characterization of the pattern ofcab mRNA expression in tomato leaves shows that the amplitude of the oscillation is dependent on i) the developmental stage of the leaves, ii) the circadian phase and duration of light and iii) the circadian phase and duration of darkness. In addition to the chlorophyll a/b-binding proteins, genes coding for other cellular functions were examined for cyclic variations of their mRNA levels. The analysis includes genes involved in i) carbon metabolism (e.g. phosphoenolpyruvate carboxylase, pyruvate orthophosphate dikinase, alpha amylase, fructose-1,6-bisphosphate aldolase, triosephosphate isomerase), ii) photosynthesis (large and small subunit of ribulose-1,5-bisphosphate carboxylase/oxygenase, QB-binding protein, reaction-center protein of photosystem I) and iii) other physiological or morphological reactions (e.g. ubiquitin, actin). However, no periodic fluctuation pattern was detected for the mRNA levels of these genes in tomato and maize leaves.