Abstract We studied the performance of a prototype electromagnetic calorimeter for the BELLE detector at the KEK proton synchrotron for an energy range of 0.25–3.5 GeV. The prototype consisted of an array of 6 × 5 CsI(Tl) crystals with 30 cm length (16.2 radiation lengths) and about 6 cm × 6 cm cross section. The scintillation light of each CsI(Tl) crystal was read out by two large-area PIN photodiodes and charge-sensitive preamplifiers attached at the rear face of the crystal. We measured the energy and position resolution for electrons and the e π separation for two sets of matrix configurations: one corresponded to the center and the other to the edge of the barrel calorimeter. The overall performance measured by the test proves that the prototype calorimeter is satisfactory for the use in the BELLE detector.