(1,3;1,4)-beta-d-Glucan (beta-glucan) accounts for 20% of the total cell walls in the starchy endosperm of wheat (Triticum aestivum) and is an important source of dietary fiber for human nutrition with potential health benefits. Bioinformatic and array analyses of gene expression profiles in developing caryopses identified the CELLULOSE SYNTHASE-LIKE F6 (CSLF6) gene as encoding a putative beta-glucan synthase. RNA interference constructs were therefore designed to down-regulate CSLF6 gene expression and expressed in transgenic wheat under the control of a starchy endosperm-specific HMW subunit gene promoter. Analysis of wholemeal flours using an enzyme-based kit and by high-performance anion-exchange chromatography after digestion with lichenase showed decreases in total beta-glucan of between 30% and 52% and between 36% and 53%, respectively, in five transgenic lines compared to three control lines. The content of water-extractable beta-glucan was also reduced by about 50% in the transgenic lines, and the M(r) distribution of the fraction was decreased from an average of 79 to 85 x 10(4) g/mol in the controls and 36 to 57 x 10(4) g/mol in the transgenics. Immunolocalization of beta-glucan in semithin sections of mature and developing grains confirmed that the impact of the transgene was confined to the starchy endosperm with little or no effect on the aleurone or outer layers of the grain. The results confirm that the CSLF6 gene of wheat encodes a beta-glucan synthase and indicate that transgenic manipulation can be used to enhance the health benefits of wheat products.