Unlike most other plant microsomal desaturases, the Δ6-fatty acid desaturase from borage (Borago officinalis) contains an N-terminal extension that shows homology to the small hemoprotein cytochrome (Cyt) b5. To determine if this domain serves as a functional electron donor for the Δ6-fatty acid desaturase, mutagenesis and functional analysis by expression in transgenic Arabidopsis was carried out. Although expression of the wild-type borage Δ6-fatty acid desaturase resulted in the synthesis and accumulation of Δ6-unsaturated fatty acids, this was not observed in plants transformed with N-terminally deleted forms of the desaturase. Site-directed mutagenesis was used to disrupt one of the axial heme-binding residues (histidine-41) of the Cyt b5 domain; expression of this mutant form of the Δ6-desaturase in transgenic plants failed to produce Δ6-unsaturated fatty acids. These data indicate that the Cyt b5 domain of the borage Δ6-fatty acid desaturase is essential for enzymatic activity.