To study the function of xyloglucan endotransglycosylase (XET) in vivo we isolated, a tomato (Lycopersicon esculentum Mill.) XET cDNA (GenBank AA824986) from the homologous tobacco (Nicotiana tabacum L.) clone named NtXET-1 (Accession no. D86730). The expression pattern revealed highest levels of NtXET-1 mRNA in organs highly enriched in vascular tissue. The levels of NtXET-1 mRNA decreased in midribs with increasing age of leaves. Increasing leaf age was correlated with an increase in the average molecular weight (MW) of xyloglucan (XG) and a decrease in the relative growth rates of leaves. Transgenic tobacco plants with reduced levels of XET activity were created to further study the biochemical consequences of reduced levels of NtXET-1 expression. In two independent lines, total XET activity could be reduced by 56% and 37%, respectively, in midribs of tobacco plants transformed with an antisense construct. The decreased activity led to an increase in the average MW of XG by at least 20%. These two lines of evidence argue for NtXET-1 being involved in the incorporation of small XG molecules into the cell wall by transglycosylation. Reducing the incorporation of small XG molecules will result in a shift towards a higher average MW. The observed reduction in NtXET-1 expression and increase in the MW of XG in older leaves might be associated with strengthening of cell walls by reduced turnover and hydrolysis of XG.