In vitro formation of roots is obtained directly, without intermediate growth of callus, from foliar explants of a tobacco (Nicotiana tabacum) plant cultured on Murashige and Skoog medium containing IAA. Auxin-induced root formation was accompanied by significant changes in hydroxycinnamoylputrescine levels. Increasing levels were found in leaf explants during the first 14 days in culture; this was followed by a sharp decline after 20 days. Early changes in putrescine conjugates were detected in leaf explants before the visible appearance of roots. An early and transitory accumulation of hydroxycinnamoylputrescines was observed in the roots. Free polyamines (putrescine, spermidine, and spermine) in leaf explants and roots were always at a low level and only small changes in their concentrations were observed, alpha-dl-difluoromethylarginine and alpha-dl-difluoromethylornithine, specific, irreversible inhibitors of arginine decarboxylase and ornithine decarboxylase, respectively, inhibited putrescine accumulation and root initiation and reduced the fresh and dry weights of leaf explants. These effects were reversed by free putrescine or hydroxycinnamoylputrescines. The results reported here suggest that hydroxycinnamoylputrescines are associated with root formation. The relationship among free polyamines, hydroxycinnamoylputrescines, cell division, and root formation is discussed.