Plastic and elastic in-vitro extensibilities (E pland E el ) of cell walls from growing maize (Zea mays L.) coleoptile segments were measured by stretching frozen-thawed tissue, pre-extended to its in-vivo length, at constant force (creep test) in a custom-buildt extensiometer, equipped with a linear-displacement transducer. The indole-3-acetic acid (IAA)-induced change of E pl (ΔE pl ) is strictly correlated with the growth rate for a period of 3-4 h. Subsequently, ΔE plremains constant while the growth rate is slowing down. Since this discrepancy can be accounted for by a growth-dependent reduction of osmotic pressure, it is concluded that ΔE plrepresents quantitatively the relative increase of in-vivo extensibility (cell wall loosening) involved in IAA-mediated cell growth over a much longer time. On the other side it is argued that the growth rate may not be strictly correlated with wall extensibility during long-term growth. Abscisic acid (ABA) inhibits segment growth induced by auxin, fusicoccin, or exogenous acid, and this effect can be quantitatively attributed to an ABA-mediated reduction of cell wall extensibility as determined by the ΔE plmeasurement. Both, IAA and ABA have no effect on total protein synthesis, RNA synthesis, and amount of osmotic solutes. Fusicoccin-induced proton excretion is only slightly inhibited by ABA. In contrast to ABA, growth inhibition by cycloheximide (CHI) is always much larger than the concomitant reduction of ΔE pl , indicating that a further growth parameter is also involved in the inhibition of cell growth by CHI. ΔE el is not affected by either IAA, ABA, or CHI. It is concluded that δE pl as determined by the applied method, represents a relative measure of the actual in-vivo extensibility of the growing cell wall at the very moment when the tissue is killed, rather than an average extensibility accumulated over some immediate-past period of time as suggested by Cleland (1984, Planta 160, 514-520). Hence, we further draw the conclusion that IAA and ABA control of cell growth can entirely be attributed to a modulation of cell wall extensibility by these hormones in maize coleoptiles.