Phytohormones are essential for integrating many aspects of plant development and responses to the environment. Regulation of hormonally controlled events occurs at multiple levels: synthesis, catabolism and perception (Trewavas 1983, Bradford and Trewavas 1994). At the level of perception, sensitivity to hormones can be regulated both spatially and temporally during the life cycle. An example of spatial regulation is the differential response to a hormone that occurs during organ abscission. Temporally, sensitivity of an organ to a hormone may change during maturation, as occurs during fruit ripening. In this review, we will focus on the initial event in recognition of one hormone, ethylene. The ethylene receptor was the first plant hormone receptor to be unambiguously identified. Over the last few years, great progress has been made in elucidating the genes involved in ethylene action. Nonetheless, the mechanisms of signal transduction remain to be established. Here, we will address the status of the tomato receptor gene family and the evidence that regulation of receptor gene expression can influence the response of the plant to the hormone.