(-)-Jasmonic acid was identified as a plant growth inhibitor of the pericarp of Vicia faba by means of gas-liquid chromatography, high resolution mass spectrometry, (1)H-nuclear magnetic resonance ((1)H-NMR), and (13)C-NMR. Additionally, the pericarp contains very small amounts of abscisic acid (ABA) and 4'-dihydrophaseic acid. The highest level of jasmonic acid was reached prior to full pericarp length. This amount (3 μg g(-1) fresh weight) is similar to the maximal ABA content in the developing seed. Jasmonic acid is a plant growth inhibitor possessing a relative activity in the wheat seedling bioassay of 1-2.5%, compared to ABA. Contrary to ABA, jasmonic acid does not cause retardation of leaf emergence. The possible physiological role of jasmonic acid in the pericarp is discussed and compared with the assumed function of ABA in developing seeds.