We isolated the small subunit of ribulose-1, 5-bisphosphate carboxylase/oxygenase (RuBisCO SSu) from a fern,Asplenium cataractarum and determined its 34 N-terminal amino acid sequence. We obtained a cDNA clone that contains the entire coding region of the SSu from the same fern species, using synthetic oligonucleotide probes derived from the above amino acid sequence. It contains a 525 bp open reading frame capable of coding for a polypeptide with 174 amino acids, 31 bp 5′-and 206 bp 3′-noncoding regions. It was also elucidated that the precursor to the SSu contains a transit peptide of 53 amino acid residues and a mature protein of 121 residues. We compared the deduced amino acid sequence of the fern SSu with those of 11 other vascular plant species (including gymnosperms, monocots and dicots). As low as 55% homology was observed between those of a fern and seed plants. Constancy of the amino acid substitution rate in RuBisCO SSu was supported by our relative rate test. Amino acid substitution rate per year per site for RuBisCO SSu was calculated to be 0.81×10−9 assuming that the separation between pteridophytes and seed plants arose 380 million years ago.