The non-invasive technique of fluorescence redistribution after photobleaching was employed on soybean (Glycine max (L.) Merr.) root cells grown in suspension culture to examine macromolecular transport across plant cell walls. Using both fluorescently derivatized dextrans and proteins of graded size, a functional range of diameters for putative trans-wall channels was determined to be 6.6-8.6 nm. A mild treatment with pectinase apparently enlarged the channels, without adversely affecting cell viability, enabling significantly larger molecules to pass through the wall. Treatment of the cells with cellulysin or protease did not have this enlargement effect. It appears that the organization of pectic substances is a major control element in defining the sieving properties of the wall.