Plants contain most of the growth hormone indole-3-acetic acid (IAA) in conjugated forms believed to be inactive in promoting growth. The iaglu gene, which controls the first step in the biosynthesis of the IAA conjugates of Zea mays, encodes (uridine 5'-diphosphate-glucose:indol-3-ylacetyl)-beta-D-glucosyl transferase. Protein synthesized by Escherichia coli that contained cloned 1-O-beta-D-indol-3-ylacetyl-glucose complementary DNA (cDNA) was catalytically active. The predicted amino acid sequence of the cDNA was confirmed by amino-terminal sequencing of the purified enzyme. Homologous nucleotide sequences were found in all plants tested. The blockage or enhancement of iaglu expression may permit regulation of plant growth.