Early during fruit ripening in kiwifruit (Actinidia deliciosa var. deliciosa [A. Chev.], C.F. Liang and A.R. Ferguson cv. Hayward), starch is broken down to sucrose and hexose sugars. Concomitantly, sucrose-phosphate synthase (SPS, EC 18.104.22.168) activity measured with saturating substrate increased, suggesting that SPS is induced in response to a higher requirement for sucrose synthesis . A 2584 bp long partial cDNA clone encoding SPS was isolated from ripening kiwifruit. cDNA fragments encoding the 5′ end were isolated by PCR, and sequencing revealed at least four closely related (>96% identity) mRNAs expressed early in kiwifruit ripening. Southern hybridisations in a diploid relative of kiwifruit, Actinidia chinensis (Planch.) var. chinensis, were consistent with the presence of a small gene family. Western analysis indicated a 125 kDa SPS protein present in all tissues of A. chinensis at all stages of development. Steady-state levels of SPS mRNA in A. chinensis increased near fruit maturity as net starch degradation began on the vine, and increased again during ethylene treatment of fruit after harvest. After removal from ethylene SPS transcript levels decreased, only to increase again as fruit moved into the climacteric and starch breakdown was completed. Exposure to low temperatures also caused an increase in SPS transcript level. These results indicate that SPS mRNA increases in kiwifruit in response to the presence of new substrate sourced from starch degradation, in response to ethylene and in response to low temperature.