This study focuses on the characterization of protein phosphorylation in the gravitropic response in oat shoot pulvini through the use of inhibitors of this process, namely staurosporine, okadaic acid and sodium fluoride. These three inhibitors reduce gravitropic curvature and cause changes in the phosphorylation of 38- and 50-kDa soluble proteins which show different levels of phosphorylation between lower and upper halves of gravistimulated pulvini. A kinetic analysis of phosphorylation shows that the 38- and 50-kDa soluble proteins exhibit different levels of phosphorylation between lower and upper halves of graviresponsive pulvini at 5 min after initiation of gravistimulation of stems. In addition, the phosphorylation of 63- and 70-kDa proteins from a total membrane preparation increases in lower halves of the pulvini following gravistimulation. These phosphoproteins are not found in the plasma membrane fraction. Taken together, at least four kinds of phosphoproteins are gravi-related. Of these, the 38- and 50-kDa soluble phosphoproteins may be involved in the regulation of early stages of the gravitropic response.