In tobacco, as in other species, ethylene is produced in response to pollination. Although tobacco is a self-compatible species, it displays unilateral incongruity with other Nicotiana plants. Incongruous pollination also results in ethylene production, but this production differs depending on the pollen used and is related to the extent to which pollen tubes grow in the tobacco style. In the investigation reported here we followed the expression of the ACC synthase- and ACC oxidase-coding genes upon pollination of tobacco pistils and compared self-pollination with incongruous pollination. The pattern of expression of these genes also correlated with pollen-tube growth, although wounding alone cannot explain the results obtained. We also examined the expression of these genes upon pollination of immature tobacco pistils, in which different pollen tubes grew indistinctly inside the tobacco style and reached the ovary at the same rate. In this situation no significant differences in gene expression could be observed between the different pollinations. Ethephon, a substance that produces ethylene, could, in some cases, minimize the arrest of incongruous pollen tubes inside the style.