A cutinase gene (ScCut1) was amplified by PCR from the genomic DNA of the ascomycetous plant pathogen Sirococcous conigenus VTT D-04989 using degenerate primers designed on the basis of conserved segments of known cutinases and cutinase-like enzymes. No introns or N- or O-glycosylation sites could be detected by analysis of the ScCut1 gene sequence. The alignment of ScCut1 with other fungal cutinases indicated that ScCut1 contained the conserved motif G-Y-S-Q-G surrounding the active site serine as well as the aspartic acid and histidine residues of the cutinase active site. The gene was expressed in Pichia pastoris, and the recombinantly produced ScCut1 enzyme was purified to homogeneity by immobilized metal affinity chromatography exploiting a C-terminal His-tag translationally fused to the protein. The purified ScCut1 exhibited activity at acidic pH. The K m and V max values determined for pNP-butyrate esterase activity at pH 4.5 were 1.7 mM and 740 nkat mg -1, respectively. Maximal activities were determined at between pH 4.7 and 5.2 and at between pH 4.1 and 4.6 with pNP-butyrate and tritiated cutin as the substrates, respectively. With both substrates, the enzyme was active over a broad pH range (between pH 3.0 and 7.5). Activity could still be detected at pH 3.0 both with tritiated cutin and with p-nitrophenyl butyrate (relative activity of 25 %) as the substrates. ScCut1 showed activity towards shorter (C2 to C3) fatty acid esters of p-nitrophenol than towards longer ones. Circular dichroism analysis suggested that the denaturation of ScCut1 by heating the protein sample to 80°C was to a great extent reversible.