Abstract Cells of a seven year old strain of Papaver somniferum L. when cultured for 2 weeks and incubated with substances known to elicit the formation of phytoalexins, responded by turning reddish brown within 6 h and accumulating sanguinarine. Morphinan alkaloids were not detected. Media (100 ml) containing 1 ml of Botrytis spec. preparations raised the level of sanguinarine in the cells 26 times over the maximum level found in controls. Over a culture period of 79 h the cells achieved a sanguinarine concentration of 2.9% of dry weight. Media (100 ml) with 1 ml of Rhodotorula rubra preparation, 15 mg arachidonic acid, 1 mg actinomycin, 0.5 ml of Helminthosporium gramineum, Sclerotinia sclerotiorum, or 5 ml Colletotrichum gloeosporoides preparation elicited a considerable, but relatively weaker response. Sanguinarine accumulation was also found to occur in the medium and reached a concentration of 43% of total sanguinarine per culture when cells were cultured in 100 ml medium with 5 ml Colletotrichum preparation for 24 h. Young poppy cell cultures initiated 9 months ago responded to the presence of Botrytis material as did 7-year-old cultures.