The simple gas ethylene influences a diverse array of plant growth and developmental processes including germination, senescence, cell elongation, and fruit ripening. This review focuses on recent molecular genetic studies, principally in Arabidopsis, in which components of the ethylene response pathway have been identified. The isolation and characterization of two of these genes has revealed that ethylene sensing involves a protein kinase cascade. One of these genes encodes a protein with similarity to the ubiquitous Raf family of Ser/Thr protein kinases. A second gene shows similarity to the prokaryotic two-component histidine kinases and most likely encodes an ethylene receptor. Additional elements involved in ethylene signaling have only been identified genetically. The characterization of these genes and mutants will be discussed.