Ethylene production, 1-aminocyclopropane-1-carboxylic acid (ACC) levels and ACC-synthase activity were compared in intact and wounded tomato fruits (Lycopersicon esculentum Mill.) at different ripening stages. Freshly cut and wounded pericarp discs produced relatively little ethylene and had low levels of ACC and of ACC-synthase activity. The rate of ethylene synthesis, the level of ACC and the activity of ACC synthase all increased manyfold within 2 h after wounding. The rate of wound-ethylene formation and the activity of wound-induced ACC synthase were positively correlated with the rate of ethylene production in the intact fruit. When pericarp discs were incubated overnight, wound ethylene synthesis subsided, but the activity of ACC synthase remained high, and ACC accumulated, especially in discs from ripe fruits. In freshly harvested tomato fruits, the level of ACC and the activity of ACC synthase were higher in the inside parts of the fruit than in the pericarp. When wounded pericarp tissue of green tomato fruits was treated with cycloheximide, the activity of ACC synthase declined with an apparent half life of 30-40 in. The activity of ACC synthase in cycloheximide-treated, wounded pericarp of ripening tomatoes declined more slowly.