Zein synthesis accompanied an increase in large polyribosomes of maize (Zea mays) endosperm cells. The two classes of polyribosomes (free and membrane-bound) had dissimilar size class distributions. Membrane-bound polyribosomes were predominantly large size classes, which were not found in free polyribosomes. The ratio of large membrane-bound polysomes to total membrane-bound polysomes was highest when zein was being synthesized. Appearance of the large polysomes correlated with the onset of zein accumulation in vivo. These large size classes were nearly absent in the opaque-2 mutant at all stages of endosperm development. Similarly, rRNA content was reduced in the mutant from that in normal endosperm development. These differences were associated with reduced in vitro synthesis and in vivo accumulation of zein.