The ability of four genetically distinct plasmid-located tetracycline resistance determinants (TetA, B, C and D) to confer decreased accumulation of tetracycline and some of its analogues by Escherichia coli K12 was examined. Accumulation of oxytetracycline, tetracycline, demethylchlorotetracycline, 6-demethyl-6-deoxy-5-hydroxy-6-methylene-tetracycline, chlorotetracycline, doxycycline and 6-demethyl-6-deoxytetracycline was examined by fluorescence spectroscopy. The determinants varied in their ability to promote decreased accumulation of tetracyclines, defined as an R+/R- fluorescence ratio of less than 0.85. Plasmid pIP7 (TetA) caused reduced accumulation of only oxytetracycline, tetracycline and chlorotetracycline, but plasmid pDU301 (TetB) promoted reduced accumulation of all the compounds tested except 6-demethyl-6-deoxytetracycline. The TetC determinant of pBR322 caused decreased uptake of five derivatives, but not doxycycline or 6-demethyl-6-deoxytetracycline. Plasmid RA1 (TetD) encoded reduced accumulation of oxytetracycline, tetracycline, 6-demethyl-6-deoxy-5-hydroxy-6-methylenetetracycline and chlorotetracycline. In general, the resistance determinants were more efficient in promoting decreased accumulation of hydrophilic tetracyclines. These accumulation studies provide a satisfactory method for the phenotypic identification of Tet resistance determinants.