In Mimosa pudica L., heat stimulation triggers leaflet folding in local, neighbouring and distant leaves. Stomatal movements were observed microscopically during this folding reaction and electrical potentials, chlorophyll fluorescence, and leaf CO(2)/H(2)O-gas exchange were measured simultaneously. Upon heat stimulation of a neighbouring pinna, epidermal cells depolarized and the stomata began a rapid and pronounced transient opening response, leading to an approximately 2-fold increase of stomatal aperture within 60 s. At the same time, net CO(2) exchange showed a pronounced transient decrease, which was followed by a similar drop in photochemical quantum yield at photosystem (PS) II. Subsequently, CO(2)-gas exchange and photochemical quantum yield recovered and stomata closed partly or completely. The transient and fast stomatal opening response is interpreted as a hydropassive stomatal movement caused by a sudden loss of epidermal turgor. Thus, epidermal cells appear to respond in a similar manner to heat-induced signals as the pulvinar extensor cells. The subsequent closing of the stomata confirms earlier reports that stomatal movements can be induced by electrical signals. The substantial delay (several minutes) of guard cell turgor loss compared with the immediate response of the extensor and epidermal cells suggests a different, less direct mechanism for transmission of the propagating signal to the guard cells.