Ochratoxin A is an important nephrotoxic and nephrocarcinogenic mycotoxin, produced by Aspergillus ochraceus as a polyketide-derived secondary metabolite. A portion of a putative polyketide synthase gene (pks) involved in the biosynthesis of this mycotoxin was cloned by using a suppression subtractive hybridization PCR-based approach. The predicted amino acid sequence of the 1(.)4 kb clone shared 28-35 % identity to acyl transferase regions from fungal polyketide synthases found in the databases. Based on reverse transcription PCR studies, the pks gene is expressed only under ochratoxin A permissive conditions and only during the early stages of the mycotoxin synthesis. A mutant in which the pks gene has been interrupted cannot synthesize ochratoxin A. This report is the first of the cloning and characterization of a gene involved in ochratoxin A biosynthesis.