We describe a 1132 bp sequence of the cyanelle genome of Cyanophora paradoxa containing the rpl3 gene. This gene, which is not chloroplast encoded in plants, is the first of a long cyanelle ribosomal operon whose organization resembles that of the S10 operon of E. coli. We have shown that the rpl3 gene is transcribed in cyanelles as a 7500 nucleotide precursor and that the 5'-end of the mRNA starts approximately 90 nucleotides upstream from the initiation codon. However, no typical procaryotic promoter could be found for this gene. We have detected, using anti E. coli L3 antibodies, the cyanelle L3 protein in cyanelle extracts and in E. coli cells transformed with the cyanelle rpl3 gene.