Fatty acid biosynthesis from Na[1-14C]acetate was characterized in plastids isolated from primary roots of 7-day-old germinating pea (Pisum sativum L.) seeds. Fatty acid synthesis was maximum at 82 nanomoles per hour per milligram protein in the presence of 200 micromolar acetate, 0.5 millimolar each of NADH, NADPH, and coenzyme A, 6 millimolar each of ATP and MgCl2, 1 millimolar each of MnCl2 and glycerol-3-phosphate, 15 millimolar KHCO3, 0.31 molar sucrose, and 0.1 molar Bis-Tris-propane, pH 8.0, incubated at 35°C. At the standard incubation temperature of 25°C, fatty acid synthesis was essentially linear for up to 6 hours with 80 to 120 micrograms per milliliter plastid protein. ATP and coenzyme A were absolute requirements, whereas divalent cations, potassium bicarbonate, and reduced nucleotides all variously improved activity two- to 10-fold. Mg2+ and NADH were the preferred cation and nucleotide, respectively. Glycerol-3-phosphate had little effect, whereas dithiothreitol and detergents generally inhibited the incorporation of [14C]acetate into fatty acids. On the average, the principal radioactive products of fatty acid biosynthesis were approximately 39% palmitic, 9% stearic, and 52% oleic acid. The proportions of these fatty acids synthesized depended on the experimental conditions.