Relative levels of different alpha-amylase mRNAs were assessed by primer extension experiments using RNA prepared from aleurone of barley (Hordeum vulgare L. cv. Himalaya). Three different aleurone systems were studied: protoplasts prepared from aleurone layers, isolated aleurone layers, and aleurone from germinated grain. Oligonucleotide primers specific for the low-pI and high-pI alpha-amylase groups allowed the levels of different alpha-amylase mRNAs to be assessed both within and between the two groups. In all aleurone systems the same set of alpha-amylase mRNAs was produced in response to either applied gibberellic acid (aleurone protoplasts, isolated aleurone layers) or, presumably, native gibberellin(s) (germinated grain). This result indicates that the same set of genes is being expressed in each case. Differences were observed between the different aleurone systems in regulation of levels of alpha-amylase mRNAs. In particular, the regulation of alpha-amylase mRNA levels in aleurone of germinated grain has unique features which are not adequately explained by the response of isolated aleurone layers to gibberellic acid.