A cDNA clone encoding a sesquiterpene synthase, (+)-germacrene D synthase, has been isolated from ginger (Zingiber oYcinale). The full-length cDNA (AY860846) contains a 1650-bp open reading frame coding for 550 amino acids (63.8 kDa) with a theoretical pID5.59. The deduced amino acid sequence is 30–46% identical with sequences of other sesquiterpene synthases from angiosperms. The recombinant enzyme, produced in Escherichia coli, catalyzed the formation of a major product, (+)-germacrene D (50.2% of total sesquiterpenoids produced) and a co-product, germacrene B (17.1%) and a number of minor by-products. The optimal pH for the recombinant enzyme is around 7.5. Substantial (+)-germacrene D synthase activity is observed in the presence of Mg2+, Mn2+, Ni2+ or Co2+, while the enzyme is inactive when Cu2+ or Zn2+ is used. The Km- and kcat-values are 0.88 M and 3.34£10¡3 s¡1, respectively. A reaction mechanism involving a double 1,2-hydride shift has been established using deuterium labeled substrates in combination with GC–MS analysis. © 2006 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.