Plants have evolved a tremendous ability to respond to environmental changes by adapting their growth and development. The interaction between hormonal and developmental signals is a critical mechanism in the generation of this enormous plasticity. A good example is the response to the hormone ethylene that depends on tissue type, developmental stage, and environmental conditions. By characterizing the Arabidopsis wei8 mutant, we have found that a small family of genes mediates tissue-specific responses to ethylene. Biochemical studies revealed that WEI8 encodes a long-anticipated tryptophan aminotransferase, TAA1, in the essential, yet genetically uncharacterized, indole-3-pyruvic acid (IPA) branch of the auxin biosynthetic pathway. Analysis of TAA1 and its paralogues revealed a link between local auxin production, tissue-specific ethylene effects, and organ development. Thus, the IPA route of auxin production is key to generating robust auxin gradients in response to environmental and developmental cues.