An expansin-like protein from growing tomato leaves was identified by its ability to restore the 'acid-growth' response to heat-inactivated tomato walls and by its similarity to expansins from cucumber hypocotyls. Native walls from growing tomato leaves exhibit an endogenous acid-induced extension (creep) that resembles in various biochemical characteristics the acid-growth activity of cucumber hypocotyls. For example, the acid-growth activity is lost when the walls of tomato leaves are briefly heated and is largely restored by addition of a crude protein extract from the walls of growing leaves. Wall proteins from growing leaves enhance the stress relaxation spectrum of tomato walls in a fashion characteristic of cucumber expansins. HPLC fractionation of the crude wall protein from tomato leaves yielded an active fraction containing a major 27 kDa protein that cross-reacts with an antibody raised against cucumber expansin. The results show that tomato leafwalls possess at least one expansin that is responsible for the acid-growth property of leaves and indicate that cell wall extension in leaves shares an underlying protein mechanism common to cell wall expansion in stems.