Seedlings of Arabidopsis thaliana (L.) Heynh. (ecotype Columbia and an ethylene-resistant mutant etr1-1) were cultivated for 68.5, 91.5 and 136 h on board during the Space Shuttle STS-95 mission, and changes in the elongation growth and the cell wall properties of hypocotyls were analyzed. Elongation growth of dark-grown hypocotyls of both Columbia and etr1-1 was stimulated under microgravity conditions in space. There were no clear differences in the degree of growth stimulation between Columbia and etr1-1, indicating that the ethylene level was not abnormally high in the cultural environment of this space experiment. Microgravity also increased the mechanical extensibility of cell walls in both cultivars, and such an increase was attributed to the increase in the apparent irreversible extensibility. The levels of cell wall polysaccharides per unit length of hypocotyls decreased in space. Microgravity also reduced the weight-average molecular mass of xyloglucans in the hemicellulose-II fraction. Also, the activity of xyloglucan-degrading enzymes extracted from hypocotyl cell walls increased under microgravity conditions. These results suggest that microgravity reduces the molecular mass of xyloglucans by increasing xyloglucan-degrading activity. Modifications of xyloglucan metabolism as well as the thickness of cell wall polysaccharides seem to be involved in an increase in the cell wall extensibility, leading to growth stimulation of Arabidopsis hypocotyls in space.