It is generally accepted that peroxidases catalyze the final step in the biosynthesis of lignin. In this study, to examine how expression of prxA3a, a gene for an anionic peroxidase, might be related to lignification in plant tissues, we produced transgenic tobacco plants that harbored a gene for beta-glucuronidase (GUS) fused to the prxA3a promoter. Histochemical staining for GUS activity indicated that the prxA3a promoter was active mainly in the lignifying cells of stem tissues. Further, to examine the effects of suppressing the expression of prxA3a, we transferred an antisense prxA3a gene construct into the original host, hybrid aspen ( Populus sieboldii x P. gradidentata), under the control of the original promoter of the prxA3a gene. Eleven transformed aspens were obtained and characterized, and the stable integration of the antisense construct was confirmed by PCR and Southern blotting analysis in all these lines. Assays of enzymatic activity showed that both total peroxidase activity and acidic peroxidase activity were lower in most transgenic lines than in the control plants. In addition, the reduction of peroxidase activity was associated with lower lignin content and modified lignin composition. Transgenic lines with the highest reduction of peroxidase activity displayed a higher syringyl/vanillin (S/V) ratio and a lower S+V yield, mainly because of a decreased amount of V units. Thus, our results indicate that prxA3a is involved in the lignification of xylem tissue and that the down-regulation of anionic peroxidase alters both lignin content and composition in hybrid aspen.