Brassica napus L. microspores at the late uninucleate to early binucleate stage of development can be induced in vitro to alter their development from pollen to embryo formation. High temperatures or other stress treatments are required to initiate this redirection process. The critical period for induction of microspore embryogenesis is within the first 8 h of temperature-stress imposition. During this period, which precedes the first embryogenic nuclear division, the process regulating the induction and sustainment of microspore embryogenesis is activated. A number of mRNAs and proteins, some of them possibly heat-shock proteins, appear in microspores during the commitment phase of the induction process.