In dark-grown hypocotyls of the Arabidopsis procuste mutant, a mutation in the CesA6 gene encoding a cellulose synthase reduces cellulose synthesis and severely inhibits elongation growth. Previous studies had left it uncertain why growth was inhibited, because cellulose synthesis was affected before, not during, the main phase of elongation. We characterised the quantity, structure and orientation of the cellulose remaining in the walls of affected cells. Solid-state NMR spectroscopy and infrared microscopy showed that the residual cellulose did not differ in structure from that of the wild type, but the cellulose content of the prc-1 cell walls was reduced by 28%. The total mass of cell-wall polymers per hypocotyl was reduced in prc-1 by about 20%. Therefore, the fourfold inhibition of elongation growth in prc-1 does not result from aberrant cellulose structure, nor from uniform reduction in the dimensions of the cell-wall network due to reduced cellulose or cell-wall mass. Cellulose orientation was quantified by two quantitative methods. First, the orientation of newly synthesised microfibrils was measured in field-emission scanning electron micrographs of the cytoplasmic face of the inner epidermal cell wall. The ordered transverse orientation of microfibrils at the inner face of the cell wall was severely disrupted in prc-1 hypocotyls, particularly in the early growth phase. Second, cellulose orientation distributions across the whole cell-wall thickness, measured by polarised infrared microscopy, were much broader. Analysis of the microfibril orientations according to the theory of composite materials showed that during the initial growth phase, their anisotropy at the plasma membrane was sufficient to explain the anisotropy of subsequent growth.