(1) The mechanisms underlying the transient increase in phenylalanine ammonia-lyase activity during phaseollin accumulation in cell suspension cultures of Dwarf French bean (Phaseolus volgaris) have been investigated using density labelling with 3H from 2H2O coupled with residual analysis of the equilibrium distribution of enzyme activity in high-resolution KBr density gradients. (2) The resolution achieved in this system is sufficient to allow quantitative analysis of the relative proportions of light, unlabelled, pre-existing enzyme and heavy, labelled, newly synthesised enzyme. (3) Elicitor released by heat treatment of cell walls of Colletotrichum lindemuthianum, the causal agent of anthracnose disease of French bean, caused a marked but transient increase in phenylalanine ammonia-lyase activity concomitant with the onset of phaseollin accumulation in the bean cultures. The induction of enzyme activity was highly dependent on elicitor concentration, with maximum induction occurring in two discrete concentration ranges; at an intermediate elicitor concentration, or at supra-optimal elicitor concentrations, no enzyme induction was observed. (4) At low concentrations of elicitor the induction of enzyme was entirely a result of elicitor stimulation of the rate of de novo enzyme production. In contrast, at higher elicitor concentrations the increase in enzyme activity was accompanied by a marked apparent stabilization of the enzyme in vivo, and the rapid but transient increase in enzyme activity was achieved by a programme of reciprocal changes in the rate constant for de novo enzyme production and the rate constant for removal of enzyme activity. Such reciprocal control of the rates of enzyme production and removal may be crucial in determining the magnitude and duration of the phytoalexin defense response. (5) Information on the specific activity of 2H label in the amino acid pools was obtained from analysis of the equilibrium distribution of residual, labelled activity. This showed directly that the turnover of the amino acid pools was fast relative to the turnover of phenylalanine ammonia-lyase and, hence, the rate of enzyme labelling was not limited by the rate of labelling of the amino acid pools. Elicitor treatment had no effect on the specific activity of label in the amino acid pools from which phenylalanine ammonia-lyase is synthesised.