Etiolated pea seedlings require transformation of Pr phytochrome to Pfr before they display optimal phototropic response to unilateral blue light. This study investigates the possible role of auxin transport in explaining these phenomena. Labeled [2-14C]IAA applied to the intact terminal buds of dark-grown and red light-treated pea seedlings was measured 210 min later on the shaded and illuminated sides of the epicotyl as a function of direction and duration of irradiation with blue light. Totally darkened epicotyls show an asymmetry in distribution of radioactivity in the upper growth zone of the epicotyl, in favor of the side under the concave part of the apical hook. Red light, which greatly potentiates curvature toward subsequent unilateral blue light, lowers this asymmetry. Blue light directed to the epicotyl of red-pretreated plants in a plane parallel to the hook and from the side bearing the convex portion of the hook induces positive phototropic curvature as well as a surplus of radioactivity on the illuminated side of the upper epicotyl and on the shaded side of the lower growth zone of the epicotyl. Light directed to the side bearing the concave part of the hook also causes an accumulation of counts in the upper part of the lighted side but produces neither curvature of the epicotyl nor accumulation of counts in the lower shaded side. Because of this built-in physiological asymmetry in the growth zone just below the apical hook, it is difficult to explain the effects of red and blue light on curvature in terms of patterns of auxin distribution alone.