A DNA-dependent in vitro-coupled transcription-translation system has been prepared from lysates of isolated chloroplasts. These lysates are comparable to those of Escherichia coli in transcriptional and translational fidelity and efficiency in response to a given template DNA. When Nicotiana tabacum chloroplast DNA is used as template with chloroplast lysates (N. tabacum or spinach) or E. coli lysates, NaDodSO4 gel analysis reveals similar polypeptide patterns that are distinct from the patterns obtained with E. coli DNA. Genes in recombinant plasmids containing chloroplast DNA are also expressed in these in vitro systems. DNA . RNA hybridization experiments show that transcripts are synthesized from most of the chloroplast genome. Newly synthesized large subunit of ribulosebisphosphate carboxylase/oxygenate and a transcript of the large subunit gene (rbcL) are observed in chloroplast lysates using as template chloroplast DNA or cloned fragments of tobacco chloroplast DNA that contain the large subunit gene. Results suggest that differential expression of chloroplast genes occurs in vitro. By using cloned chloroplast DNA templates in this homologous system, it is possible to identify and map structural genes for chloroplast proteins.