Brassinosteroids (BRs) induce various growth responses when applied exogenously to plant tissues, and the analysis of biosynthetic mutants reveals an essential role for plant growth and development. Only a few BR-regulated genes have been identified so far, and the corresponding gene products are assumed to be involved in cell elongation. The present study shows that BR growth responses are linked to the regulation of carbohydrate metabolism by induction of the mRNA for the key enzyme of an apoplastic phloem-unloading pathway. Addition of BRs to autotrophic tomato suspension culture cells specifically elevates the activity of cell-wall-bound invertase, whereas the intracellular invertase activities were not affected. This enhanced enzyme activity was shown to correlate with the induction of the mRNA of extracellular invertase Lin6, whereas the mRNA levels of the other three extracellular invertase isoenzymes were not affected. The induction level induced by different BRs correlates with their growth-promoting activity. The physiological significance of this regulation is further supported by the low concentrations and short incubation times required to induce Lin6 mRNA. This regulatory mechanism results in an elevated uptake of sucrose via the hexose monomers, and thus an increased supply of carbohydrates to the BR-treated cells. Experiments with tomato seedlings showed that the localized BR-dependent growth response of the hypocotyl elongation zone was accompanied by a specific induction of Lin6 mRNA that is restricted to the corresponding tissues. This study demonstrates a role of BRs in tissue-specific source/sink regulation.