Soybean SE60 belongs to the gamma-thionin family of proteins. We recently demonstrated that SE60 plays a role in defense during soybean development. Here, we show that SE60 is expressed in a tissue-specific and developmentally regulated manner. The expression of SE60 is distinct from that of the glycinin (Gy2) and extensin (SbHRGP3) genes of soybean during embryogenesis and germination. A SE60::GUS(-809) transgene, comprising -809 bp of the 5'-flanking region of SE60 fused to the GUS reporter gene, was expressed specifically in developing embryos, but not in the endosperms, from the globular stage of transgenic tobacco and Arabidopsis seeds. Furthermore, light affected the SE60::GUS(-809) expression pattern in germinating seedlings. Electrophoretic mobility shift assay (EMSA) revealed that soybean nuclear proteins as well as E. coli-expressed SB16, a high mobility group protein (HMG), were bound sequence-specifically to the fragment containing AT-rich motifs identified in the SE60 promoter. Interestingly, the soybean nuclear proteins binding to the two G-boxes and RY repeat were prevalent in seeds of 2-4 mm in size. In contrast, the nuclear proteins binding to the AT-rich motif and SE60 RNA expression were more prominent in seeds of 4-6 mm in size. Therefore, we propose that factors binding to the G-boxes or RY repeat initiate SE60 expression during embryogenesis.