In Brassica anthers during microsporogenesis, the tapetum cells contain two abundant lipid-rich organelles, the tapetosomes possessing oleosins and triacylglycerols (TAGs), and the elaioplasts having unique polypeptides and neutral esters. B. campestris, for its simplicity of possessing only the AA genome and one predominant oleosin of 45 kDa, was studied. In the developing anthers, the lipids and proteins of the tapetosomes and elaioplasts were concomitantly accumulated but selectively degraded or retained. Upon incubation of isolated tapetosomes in a pH-5 medium, the predominant 45 kDa oleosin underwent selective enzymatic proteolysis to a 37 kDa fragment, which was not further hydrolyzed upon prolonged incubation. The unreacted 45 kDa oleosin was retained in the organelles, whereas the 37 kDa fragment was released to the exterior. The fragment would become the predominant 37 kDa polypeptide in the pollen coat. Isolated tapetosomes did not undergo hydrolysis of the TAGs upon incubation in media of diverse pHs. An alkaline lipase in the soluble fraction of the anther extract was presumed to be the enzyme that would hydrolyze the tapetosome TAGs, which disappeared in the anthers during development. The tapetum elaioplasts contained several unique polypeptides of 31-36 kDa. The gene encoding a 32 kDa polypeptide was cloned, and its deduced amino acid sequence was homologous to those of two proteins known to be present on the surface of fibrils in chromoplasts. Upon incubation of isolated elaioplasts in media of diverse pHs, the organelle polypeptides were degraded completely and most rapidly at pH 5, whereas the neutral esters remained unchanged; these neutral esters would become the major lipid components of the pollen coat. The findings show that the constituents of the two major tapetum organelles underwent very different paths of degradation, or modification, and transfer to the pollen surface.