p40s are acidic proteins of eukaryotic cells occurring either free in the cytoplasm or in association with ribosomes, the latter occurring in both monosomes and polysomes. p40s may play a role in the regulation of protein synthesis, although the exact mechanism is not known. Leaves of all 10 plant species examined here, including both monocots and dicots, contained proteins detected on immunoblots with Arabidopsis thaliana p40 antiserum. The number and apparent size of the protein bands were variable even among closely related species. Abundance of p40 relative to ribosomal content during soybean (Glycine max L.) seed germination and during seed and leaf development was examined. p40 abundance correlated with periods of active tissue growth and high polysome content. The plant growth regulator indole acetic acid caused an increase in polysome formation in etiolated pea (Pisum sativum L.) plants and a concomitant recruitment of p40 into polysomes. Subcellular localization at the microscopy level indicated that the pattern of p40 staining is very similar to that for RNA, except that p40 is excluded from the nucleus. These data suggest that p40 is an accessory protein of the ribosome that might play a role in plant growth and development.