Arabidopsis ATSIP2 has recently been suggested to be a raffinose synthase gene. However, it has high amino acid identity to functionally characterized alkaline α-galactosidases from Cucumis melo and Zea mays. Using the Sf9 insect cell expression system, we demonstrate that recombinant ATSIP2 is a genuine alkaline α-galactosidase with a distinct substrate specificity for raffinose, and not a raffinose synthase. A β-glucuronidase reporter construct using the ATSIP2 promoter shows that ATSIP2 is strongly expressed in sink tissues of Arabidopsis, i.e. sink leaves and non-xylem parts of the root stele, suggesting a physiological function in raffinose phloem unloading.