To study the regulation of gene expression during embryo development, we isolated a gene, DC 59, expressed in embryos but not in mature carrot plants. Sequence and S1 analysis showed that the gene was composed of one exon encoding a polypeptide of 19 kilodaltons and was highly homologous to the lipid body membrane protein gene L3 from maize. The plant hormone abscisic acid regulated the accumulation of DC 59 mRNA. To understand the mechanism of embryo-specific and hormonal regulation of DC 59, 5' DNA fragments were incubated with nuclear proteins. Two adjacent regions (from -706 to -235) interacted with nuclear extracts from embryos, resulting in the formation of four complexes (C1, C2, C3, and C4). Factors involved in the formation of the C3 and C4 complexes could be competed with sequences upstream of DC 8, a gene that is coordinately expressed with DC 59 during embryo development. DNase I footprinting analysis revealed that nuclear extracts from embryos bound to four AT-rich sequences, and the protected motifs within fragment V were located in the highly homologous upstream regions of DC 59 and DC 8 genes.