The potentisation process by which homeopathic preparations are produced raises the concern that these medicines have placebo effects only, since they theoretically no longer contain active molecules of the diluted substance. Plant models offer a method of examining the efficacy of homeopathically prepared solutions. This study examined the effects of homeopathically prepared gibberellic acid (HGA3) on the germination performance of barley (Hordeum vulgare L.) seeds. The effect of HGA3 (4-200 cH) on seed germination rate and seedling development was compared to that of the most commonly used form of gibberellic acid (GA3), 0.5 g l(-1), and control (distilled water). The extent and type of response was dependent on the vigour level of the seedlot. Treating seeds from three vigour groups in HGA3 consistently resulted in larger seedlings. High-vigour seeds treated with HGA3 4, 30 and 200 cH germinated faster, and roots of medium-vigour seedlots treated in HGA3 15 cH were longer. Biphasic effects of HGA3 were also demonstrated. As a plant model, germinating barley seeds successfully demonstrated the ability of HGA3 to produce a biological response.