The hydraulic conductivity of roots (Lp(r)) of 6- to 8-d-old maize seedlings has been related to the chemical composition of apoplastic transport barriers in the endodermis and hypodermis (exodermis), and to the hydraulic conductivity of root cortical cells. Roots were cultivated in two different ways. When grown in aeroponic culture, they developed an exodermis (Casparian band in the hypodermal layer), which was missing in roots from hydroponics. The development of Casparian bands and suberin lamellae was observed by staining with berberin-aniline-blue and Sudan-III. The compositions of suberin and lignin were analyzed quantitatively and qualitatively after depolymerization (BF(3)/methanol-transesterification, thioacidolysis) using gas chromatography/mass spectrometry. Root Lp(r) was measured using the root pressure probe, and the hydraulic conductivity of cortical cells (Lp) using the cell pressure probe. Roots from the two cultivation methods differed significantly in (i) the Lp(r) evaluated from hydrostatic relaxations (factor of 1.5), and (ii) the amounts of lignin and aliphatic suberin in the hypodermal layer of the apical root zone. Aliphatic suberin is thought to be the major reason for the hydrophobic properties of apoplastic barriers and for their relatively low permeability to water. No differences were found in the amounts of suberin in the hypodermal layers of basal root zones and in the endodermal layer. In order to verify that changes in root Lp(r) were not caused by changes in hydraulic conductivity at the membrane level, cell Lp was measured as well. No differences were found in the Lp values of cells from roots cultivated by the two different methods. It was concluded that changes in the hydraulic conductivity of the apoplastic rather than of the cell-to-cell path were causing the observed changes in root Lp(r).