Primers for amplification and sequencing of partial glyceraldehyde-3-phosphate dehydrogenase (gpd) gene were designed for lichenized fungi. The 5' gpd primer is most probably fungal specific, since a BLAST search in GenBank found identical sequences only from ascomycetous taxa, whereas the 3' gpd primer was more universal. Utility of the gpd primers and previously designed beta-tubulin primers was tested in nine lichen taxa. Both the gpd and beta-tubulin primer pairs amplified in most of the taxa examined: the gpd primers generated a c. 1100 nucleotide fragment, whereas the PCR product obtained from the beta-tubulin primers was c. 900 nucleotides long. The gpd amplification products of Cladonia arbuscula and C. rangiferina were sequenced and both were found to contain three introns, the length of which varied between 49 to 83 nucleotides. To examine the applicability of gpd sequences in resolving relationships within Ascomycota, trees were calculated from 22 fungal gpd sequences obtained from GenBank together with the two Cladonia sequences using parsimony jackknifing. The gpd tree was compared with the SSU rDNA tree of the respective species (or genera). A similar analysis of the beta-tubulin gene was not performed, because only a few beta-tublin sequences from the same taxa were available in GenBank. The gpd tree was well resolved but in conflict with the SSU rDNA tree. In contrast to the SSU rDNA tree, the gpd tree did not support the monophyly of the Ascomycota. Analysis of the combined data set produced a tree very similar to that of the SSU rDNA data. However, the relationship of Lecanorales to the other orders remained unresolved. Even though gpd and beta-tubulin are highly conserved proteins, the third codon positions and introns are variable and both genes have the potential for inferring phylogenetic relationships at the lower taxonomic levels in the lichenized fungi. The two genes may be useful even below species level, depending on the species investigated.