Lipid accumulation during pollen and tapetal development was studied using cryostat sections of unfixed anthers from Brassica napus (rapeseed). Diamidino-2-henylindole (DAPI), a DNA fluorochrome, was used to stain the pollen nuclei in order to identify ten stages of pollen development in Brassica. Storage lipids (i.e. triacylglycerides) were stained using the fluorochrome Nile red. Pollen coat lipids are formed in tapetal plastids between the mid-vacuolate and early maturation pollen stages. The pollen coat components, including lipids and a proportion of the proteins, are derived from the remnants of the tapetum, after its rupture, during the second pollen mitosis. Quantitative microfluorometric analyses demonstrated four phases of lipid body accumulation or depletion in the developing pollen cytoplasm. The majority of storage lipids found in the cytoplasm of the mature pollen grain accumulated during the late vacuolate and early maturation stages when the pollen is bicellular. The level of acyl carrier protein, a protein integrally involved in lipid synthesis, was also found to be maximal in the developing pollen during the bicellular pollen stages of development. This coincided with the most active period of lipid accumulation. These data could indicate that the lipids of the pollen are synthesized in situ, by metabolic processes regulated by expression of genes in the haploid genome.