RNA editing in higher-plant chloroplasts involves C-to-U conversions at specific sites. Although in vivo analyses have been performed, little is known about the biochemical aspects of chloroplast editing reactions. Here we improved our original in vitro system and devised a procedure for preparing active chloroplast extracts not only from tobacco plants but also from pea plants. Using our tobacco in vitro system, cis-acting elements were defined for psbE and petB mRNAs. Distinct proteins were found to bind specifically to each cis-element, a 56-kDa protein to the psbE site and a 70-kDa species to the petB site. Pea chloroplasts lack the corresponding editing site in psbE since T is already present in the DNA. Parallel in vitro analyses with tobacco and pea extracts revealed that the pea plant has no editing activity for psbE mRNAs and lacks the 56-kDa protein, whereas petB mRNAs are edited and the 70-kDa protein is also present. Therefore, coevolution of an editing site and its cognate trans-factor was demonstrated biochemically in psbE mRNA editing between tobacco and pea plants.