Two-dimensional gel electrophoresis was used to characterize the molecular mechanism of gibberellin-induced stem elongation in maize and pea. Dwarf mutants of maize (d-5) and pea (Progress No. 9) lack endogenous gibberellin (GA(1)) but become phenotypically normal with exogenous applications of this hormone. Sections from either etiolated maize or green pea seedlings were incubated in the presence of [(35)S] methionine for 3 hours with or without gibberellin. Labeled proteins from soluble and particulate fractions were analyzed by two-dimensional gel electrophoresis and specific changes in the patterns of protein synthesis were observed upon treatment with gibberellin. Polyadenylated mRNAs from etiolated or green maize shoots and green pea epicotyls treated or not with gibberellin (a 0.5 to 16 hour time course) were assayed by translation in a rabbit reticulocyte extract and separation of products by two-dimensional gel electrophoresis. Both increases and decreases in the levels of specific polypeptides were seen for pea and corn, and these changes were observed within 30 minutes of treatment with gibberellin. Together, these data indicate that gibberellin induces changes in the expression of a subset of gene products within elongating dwarfs. This may be due to changes in transcription rate, mRNA stability, or increased efficiency of translation of certain mRNAs.