Rhizobium-secreted nodulation factors are lipochitooligosaccharides that trigger the initiation of nodule formation on host legume roots. The first visible effect is root hair deformation, but the perception and signalling mechanisms that lead to this response are still unclear. When we treated Vicia sativa seedlings with mastoparan root hairs deformed, suggesting that G proteins are involved. To investigate whether mastoparan and Nod factor activate lipid signalling pathways initiated by phospholipase C (PLC) and D (PLD), seedlings were radiolabelled with [(32)P]orthophosphate prior to treatment. Mastoparan stimulated increases in phosphatidic acid (PA) and diacylglycerol pyrophosphate, indicative of PLD or PLC activity in combination with diacylglycerol kinase (DGK) and PA kinase. Treatment with Nod factor had similar effects, although less pronounced. The inactive mastoparan analogue Mas17 had no effect. The increase in PA was partially caused by the activation of PLD that was monitored by its in vivo transphosphatidylation activity. The application of primary butyl alcohols, inhibitors of PLD activity, blocked root hair deformation. Using different labelling strategies, evidence was provided for the activation of DGK. Since the PLC antagonist neomycin inhibited root hair deformation and the formation of PA, we propose that PLC activation produced diacylglycerol (DAG), which was subsequently converted to PA by DGK. The roles of PLC and PLD in Nod factor signalling are discussed.