Ascorbate oxidase expression in pumpkin (Cucurbita spp.) tissues was studied. Specific ascorbate oxidase activities in pumpkin leaf and stem tissues were about 2 and 1.5 times that in the fruit tissues, respectively. In seeds, little ascorbate oxidase activity was detected. Northern blot analyses showed an abundant ascorbate oxidase mRNA in leaf and stem tissues. Fruit tissues had lower levels of ascorbate oxidase mRNA than leaf and stem tissues. Ascorbate oxidase mRNA was not detected in seeds. Specific ascorbate oxidase activity gradually increased during early seedling growth of pumpkin seeds. The increase was accompanied by an increase in ascorbate oxidase mRNA. When ascorbate oxidase activity in developing pumpkin fruits was investigated, the activities in immature fruits that are rapidly growing at 0, 2, 4, and 7 d after anthesis were much higher than those in mature fruits at 14 and 30 d after anthesis. The specific activity and mRNA of ascorbate oxidase markedly increased after inoculation of pumpkin fruit tissues into Murashige and Skoog's culture medium in the presence of an auxin such as 2,4-dichlorophenoxyacetic acid (2,4-D) but not in the absence of 2,4-D. In the presence of 10 mg/L of 2,4-D, ascorbate oxidase mRNA was the most abundant. Thus, ascorbate oxidase is induced by 2,4-D. These results indicate that ascorbate oxidase is involved in cell growth. In pumpkin callus, ascorbate oxidase activity could be markedly increased by adding copper. Furthermore, immunological blotting showed that the amount of ascorbate oxidase protein was also increased by adding copper. However, northern blot analyses showed that ascorbate oxidase mRNA was not increased by adding copper. We suggest that copper may control ascorbate oxidase expression at translation or at a site after translation.