In flowers of Nicotiana tabacum L., pollination induces a transient increase in ethylene production by the pistil. The characteristic dynamics of the increase in ethylene correspond to the main steps of the pollen-tube journey into the pistil: penetration into the stigma, growth through the style, entry into the ovary and fertilization. Ethylene is synthesized de novo in the pistil, and its production is reduced in the dark. Ethylene production was monitored in tobacco flowers after pollination with incongruous pollen from three different Nicotiana species, N. rustica, N. repanda and N. trigonophylla, and with pollen from Petunia hybrida. Pollen from all of these different sources can germinate on the stigma surface but each pollen type shows a different behavior and efficiency in penetrating the pistil tissues. Thus, these different crosses provided a model with which to study the response of the pistil to pollination and fertilization. Ethylene evolution upon pollination in tobacco differed in each cross, suggesting that ethylene is correlated with the response to pollen tube growth in the tobacco flower.