High-pressure liquid chromatography was used to separate chlorophyll derivatives in acetone extracts from senescing Citrus fruit peel, autumnal Melia azedarach L. leaves, and dark-held detached parsley (Petroselinum sativum L.) leaves. Chlorophyllide a and another polar, dephytylated derivative accumulated in large amounts in senescing Citrus peel, particularly in fruit treated with ethylene. Ethylene also induced a 4-fold increase in the specific activity of Citrus chlorophyllase (chlorophyll chlorophyllidohydrolase, EC 220.127.116.11). Detailed kinetics based on a hexane/acetone solvent partition system showed that the in vivo increase in dephytylated derivatives coincided with the decrease in total chlorophyll. Polar, dephytylated derivatives accumulated also in senescing Melia leaves. Senescing parsley leaves revealed a very different picture. The gradual disappearance of chlorophyll a was accompanied by an increase in pheophytin a and by the transient appearance of several phytylated derivatives. Only pheophytin a and an adjacent peak were left when all the chlorophyll a had disappeared. The pathways for breakdown of chlorophyll in the Citrus and parsley senescence systems are discussed.