The effect of red (R) and far-red (FR) light on stem elongation and indole-3-acetic acid (IAA) levels was examined in dwarf and tall Pisum sativum L. seedlings. Red light reduced the extension-growth rate of etiolated seedlings by 70-90% after 3 h, and this inhibition was reversible by FR. Inhibition occurred throughout the growing zone. After 3 h of R, the level of extractable IAA in whole stem sections from the growing zone of etiolated plants either increased or showed no change. By contrast, extractable IAA from epidermal peels consistently decreased 3 h after R treatments. Decreases of 40% were observed for epidermal peels from the top 1 cm of tall plants receiving 3 h R. Brief R treatments resulted in smaller decreases in epidermal IAA levels and these decreases were not as great when FR followed R. In lightgrown plants, end-of-day FR stimulated growth during the following dark period in a photoreversible manner. The uppermost 1 cm of expanding third internodes was most responsive to the FR. Extractable IAA from epidermal peels from the upper 1 cm of third internodes increased by 30% or more 5 h after FR. When R followed the FR the increases were smaller. Levels of IAA in whole stem sections did not change and were twofold greater than in dark-grown plants. In both dark- and light-grown tall plants, IAA levels were lower in epidermal peels than in whole stem segments. These results provide evidence that IAA is compartmentalized at the tissue level within the growing stem and that phytochrome regulation of stem elongation rates may be partly based on modulating the level of IAA within the epidermis.