Molecular genetic approaches in the model plant Arabidopsis thaliana (Col0) are shedding new light on the role and control of the pathways associated with the mobilization of lipid reserves during oilseed germination and post-germinative growth. Numerous independent studies have reported on the expression of individual genes encoding enzymes from the three major pathways: beta-oxidation, the glyoxylate cycle and gluconeogenesis. However, a single comprehensive study of representative genes and enzymes from the different pathways in a single plant species has not been done. Here we present results from Arabidopsis that demonstrate the co-ordinate regulation of gene expression and enzyme activities for the acyl-CoA oxidase- and 3-ketoacyl-CoA thiolase-mediated steps of beta-oxidation, the isocitrate lyase and malate synthase steps of the glyoxylate cycle and the phosphoenolpyruvate carboxykinase step of gluconeogenesis. The mRNA abundance and enzyme activities increase to a peak at stage 2, 48 h after the onset of seed germination, and decline thereafter either to undetectable levels (for malate synthase and isocitrate lyase) or low basal levels (for the genes of beta-oxidation and gluconeogenesis). The co-ordinate induction of all these genes at the onset of germination raises the possibility that a global regulatory mechanism operates to induce the expression of genes associated with the mobilization of storage reserves during the heterotrophic growth period.