Plants of tomato (Lycopersicon esculentum Mill. cv. T5) were transformed with an antisense endo-1,4-beta-glucanase (cellulase, EC 22.214.171.124) Cel2 transgene under the control of the constitutive cauliflower mosaic virus 35S promoter in order to suppress mRNA accumulation of Cel2. In two independent transgenic lines, Cel2 mRNA abundance was reduced by >95% in ripe fruit pericarp and ca. 80% in fruit abscission zones relative to non-transgenic controls. In both transgenic lines the softening of antisense Cel2 fruit pericarp measured using stress-relaxation analysis was indistinguishable from control fruit. No differences in ethylene evolution were observed between fruit of control and antisense Cel2 genotypes. However, in fruit abscission zones the suppression of Cel2 mRNA accumulation caused a significant (P<0.001) increase in the force required to cause breakage of the abscission zone at 4 days post breaker, an increase of 27% in one transgenic line and of 46% in the other transgenic line. Thus the Cel2 gene product contributes to cell wall disassembly occurring in cell separation during fruit abscission, but its role, if any, in softening or textural changes occurring in fruit pericarp during ripening was not revealed by suppression of Cel2 gene expression.