The aim of this work was to determine in what form carbon destined for starch synthesis crosses the membranes of plastids in developing pea (Pisum sativum L.) embryos. Plastids were isolated mechanically and incubated in the presence of ATP with the following (14)C-labelled substrates: glucose, fructose, glucose 6-phosphate, glucose 1-phosphate, fructose 6-phosphate, fructose 1,6-bisphosphate, dihydroxyacetone phosphate. Glucose 6-phosphate was the only substrate that supported physiologically relevant rates of starch synthesis. Incorporation of label from glucose 6-phosphate into starch was dependent upon the integrity of the plastids and the presence of ATP. The rate of incorporation approached saturation at a glucose 6-phosphate concentration of less than 1 mM. It is argued that glucose 6-phosphate is likely to enter the plastid as the source of carbon for starch synthesis in vivo.