Phospholipase D (PLD) and its product phosphatidic acid (PA) are involved in a number of signalling pathways regulating cell proliferation, membrane vesicle trafficking and defence responses in eukaryotic cells. Here we report that PLD and PA have a role in the process of polarised plant cell expansion as represented by pollen tube growth. Both phosphatidylinositol-4,5-bisphosphate-dependent and independent PLD activities were identified in pollen tube extracts, and activity levels during pollen tube germination and growth were measured. PLD-mediated PA production in vivo can be blocked by primary alcohols, which serve as a substrate for the transphosphatidylation reaction. Both pollen germination and tube growth are stopped in the presence 0.5% 1-butanol, whereas secondary and tertiary isomers do not show any effect. This inhibition could be overcome by addition of exogenous PA-containing liposomes. In the absence of n-butanol, addition of a micromolar concentration of PA specifically stimulates pollen germination and tube elongation. Furthermore, a recently established link between PLD and microtubule dynamics was supported by taxol-mediated partial rescue of the 1-butanol-inhibited pollen tubes. The potential signalling role for PLD-derived PA in plant cell expansion is discussed.