A membrane preparation from tobacco (Nicotiana tabacum L.) cells contains at least one enzyme that is capable of transferring the methyl group from S-adenosyl-methionine (SAM) to the C6 carboxyl of homogalacturonan present in the membranes. This enzyme is named homogalacturonan-methyltransferase (HGA-MT) to distinguish it from methyltransferases that catalyze methyletherification of the pectic polysaccharides rhamnogalacturonan 1 or rhamnogalacturonan. II. A trichloroacetic acid precipitation assay was used to measure HGA-MT activity, because published procedures to recover pectic polysaccharides via ethanol or chloroform:methanol precipitation lead to high and variable background radioactivity in the product pellet. Attempts to reduce the incorporation of the 14C-methyl group from SAM into pectin by the addition of the alternative methyl donor 5-methyltetrahydrofolate were unsuccessful, supporting the role of SAM as the authentic methyl donor for HGA-MT. The pH optimum for HGA-MT in membranes was 7.8, the apparent Michaelis constant for SAM was 38 μM, and the maximum initial velocity was 0.81 pkat mg-1 protein. At least 59% of the radiolabeled product was judged to be methylesterified homogalacturonan, based on the release of radioactivity from the product after a mild base treatment and via enzymatic hydrolysis by a purified pectin methylesterase. The released radioactivity eluted with a retention time identical to that of methanol upon fractionation over an organic acid column. Cleavage of the radiolabeled product by endopolygalacturonase into fragments that migrated as small oligomers of HGA during thin-layer chromatography, and the fact that HGA-MT activity in the membranes is stimulated by uridine 5'-diphosphate galacturonic acid, a substrate for HGA synthesis, confirms that the bulk of the product recovered from tobacco membranes incubated with SAM is methylesterified HGA.