A cDNA of pea (Pisum sativum L.) RbcS 3A, encoding a small subunit protein (S) of ribulose-1,5-bisphosphate carboxylase/oxygenase (Rubisco), has been expressed in Arabidopsis thaliana under control of the cauliflower mosaic virus 35S promoter, and the transcript and mature S protein were detected. Specific antibodies revealed two protein spots for the four Arabidopsis S and one additional spot for pea S. Pea S in chimeric Rubisco amounted to 15 to 18% of all S, as judged by separation on two-dimensional isoelectric focusing/sodium dodecyl sulfate-polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis gels from partially purified enzyme preparations and quantitation of silver-stained protein spots. The chimeric enzyme had 11 ± 1% fewer carbamylated sites and a 11 ± 1% lower carboxylase activity than wild-type Arabidopsis Rubisco. Whereas pea S expression, preprotein transport, and processing and assembly resulted in a stable holoenzyme, the chimeric enzyme was reproducibly catalytically less efficient. We suggest that the presence of, on average, one foreign S per holoenzyme is responsible for the altered activity. In addition, higher-plant Rubisco, unlike the cyanobacterial enzyme, seems to have evolved species-specific interactions between S and the large subunit protein that are involved in carbamylation of the active site.