The tricarboxylic acid (TCA) cycle constitutes a major component of the mitochondrial metabolism of eucaryotes, including higher plants. To analyze the importance of this pathway, we down-regulated mitochondrial citrate synthase (mCS; EC 188.8.131.52), the first enzyme of the TCA cycle, in transgenic potato plants using an antisense RNA approach. Several transformants were identified with reduced citrate synthase activity (down to approximately 6% of wild-type activity). These plants were indistinguishable from wild-type plants in the greenhouse during vegetative growth. A major change, however, was seen upon initiation of the generative phase (flower formation). In the case of transgenic plants with a strong reduction in citrate synthase activity (< 30% of wild-type levels), flower buds formed > 2 weeks later as compared with wild-type plants. Furthermore, flower buds from these plants did not develop into mature flowers but rather were aborted at an early stage of development. Microscopic analysis showed that in these cases ovaries disintegrated during flower development. We conclude that the TCA cycle is of major importance during the transition from the vegetative to the generative phase.