The role of proton excretion in the growth of apical segments of maize roots has been examined. Growth is stimulated by acidic buffers and inhibited by neutral buffers. Organic buffers such as 2[N-morpholino] ethane sulphonic acid (MES) - 2-amino-2-(hydroxymethyl)propane-1,3 diol (Tris) are more effective than phosphate buffers in inhibiting growth. Fusicoccin(FC)-induced growth is also inhibited by neutral buffers. The antiauxins 4-chlorophenoxyisobutyric acid (PCIB) and 2-(naphthylmethylthio) propionic acid (NMSP) promote growth and H(+)-excretion over short time periods; this growth is also inhibited by neutral buffers. We conclude that growth of maize roots requires proton extrusion and that regulation of root growth by indol-3yl-acetic acid (IAA) may be mediated by control of this proton extrusion.