Amphidinium carterae minicircle chloroplast DNA was separated from total DNA by centrifugation through a sucrose/NaCl gradient. Sequences of minicircles with psbA and 23S rRNA contained a common region of 67 bp. Primers designed from this generated numerous polymerase chain reaction products of 1.5-2.6 kb. These contained psaA and psaB as one gene/circle, and petB/atpA and psbD/psbE as two genes/circle. 'Empty' minicircles of 1.7-2.5 kb containing no identifiable genes or parts of genes were more abundant than gene-containing circles. From 15 minicircles a minimum common region of 48 bp was identified, with little identity to that from other dinoflagellate minicircles.