This study examines two ways plant hormones might influence membrane processes, effects on overall permeability and modifications of specific ion channels. Abscisic acid (ABA) and indole-3-acetic acid (IAA) greatly enhanced erythritol permeability in mixed egg lecithin bilayers. In single component dioleoylphosphatidylcholine bilayers ABA was less effective than IAA, while 2,4-dichlorophenoxyacetate (2,4-D) did not affect either system or alter their ABA response. In Myxicola axons ABA and IAA had no effect, while 2,4-D (10 uM) caused a depolarizing shift of voltage-dependent Na+ and K+ activation by 25 +/- 4 mV and 15 +/- 3 mV, consistent with internal negative surface charge changes of -0.002 e-/A2 and -0.0007 e-/A2. We conclude that both generalized and ion channel-directed effects may link plant hormones and intracellular regulation.