BACKGROUND: Pollen of grasses, such as Bermuda grass (Cynodon dactylon), represent a major cause of type I allergy. OBJECTIVE: In this report we attempted to clone and express a biologically active form of recombinant Cyn d 1, the major allergen of Bermuda grass pollen, in the yeast Pichia pastoris. METHODS: Clones encoding Cyn d 1 were isolated by screening a Bermuda grass pollen complementary DNA library with specific monoclonal antibodies and by polymerase chain reaction amplification. Recombinant Cyn d 1 was expressed in Escherichia coli and yeast. The expressed proteins were analyzed by Western blotting to assess binding to Cyn d 1-specific monoclonal antibodies and IgE from sera of patients allergic to Bermuda grass pollen. RESULTS: Two isoforms of Cyn d 1 were cloned. Recombinant Cyn d 1 expressed in bacteria bound two monoclonal antibodies raised against Cyn d 1 but was not recognized by IgE from sera of patients allergic to Bermuda grass pollen. Cyn d 1 expressed in yeast bound both the monoclonal antibodies and human IgE. CONCLUSION: An IgE-reactive Cyn d 1 was expressed in yeast but not in bacteria, suggesting that posttranslational modifications (e.g., glycosylation), which occur in eukaryotic cells such as yeast, are necessary for the production of a biologically active allergen.