Secretory cells were isolated from the monoterpene-producing glandular trichomes (peltate form) of peppermint as clusters of eight cells each. These isolated structures were shown to be non-specifically permeable to low-molecular-weight, water-soluble cofactors and substrates. Short incubation periods with the polar dye Lucifer yellow iodoacetamide (Mr=660) resulted in a uniform staining of the cytoplasm, with exclusion of the dye from the vacuole. The molecular-weight exclusion limit for this permeability was shown to be less than approx. 1800, based on exclusion of fluorescein-conjugated dextran (Mr ∼ 1800). Intact secretory cell clusters very efficiently incorporated [(3)H]geranyl pyrophosphate into monoterpenes. The addition of exogenous cofactors and redox substrates affected the distribution of monoterpenes synthesized from [(3)H]geranyl pyrophosphate, demonstrating that the cell clusters were permeable to these compounds and that the levels of endogenous cofactors and redox substrates were depleted in the isolated cells. When provided with the appropriate cofactors, such as NADPH, NAD(+), ATP, ADP and coenzyme A, the isolated secretory cell clusters incorporated [(14)C]sucrose into monoterpenes, indicating that these structures are capable of the de-novo biosynthesis of monoterpenes from a primary carbon source, and that they maintain a high degree of metabolic competence in spite of their permeable nature.