Crude proteins from seeds of wild bean accessions of Mexican origin were analyzed by one-dimensional sodium dodecyl sulfate polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis (SDS/PAGE). Several accessions had electrophoretic patterns showing unique protein bands. When analyzed by two-dimensional isoelectric focusing (IEF)-SDS/PAGE, four protein variants which had electrophoretic mobilities similar to each other but different from the other major seed proteins, phaseolin and lectin, were observed. All four variants, which have not been described in cultivated beans, were tentatively named arcelin proteins and designated as arcelin 1, 2, 3 and 4. Arcelins 3 and 4 had polypeptides that comigrated on two-dimensional gels and these variants occurred in accessions that were collected in the same location. Analysis of single F2 seeds from crosses among arcelin-containing lines and from crosses between cultivated beans lines without arcelin and arcelin-containing lines revealed that differences in arcelin polypeptide expression were inherited monogenically. The alleles for different arcelin variants were codominant to each other and dominant to the absence of arcelin. The gene(s) controlling arcelin proteins were unlinked to those controlling phaseolin expression and tightly linked to genes controlling the presence of lectin proteins (< 0.30% recombination). The possible origins of arcelin genes and their potential role in bruchid resistance are discussed.