An antisense approach was used to attempt to determine the function of the highly abundant, tapetum-specific A9 transcript in microsporogenesis. A Brassica napus A9 cDNA clone was linked in sense and antisense orientations to the Arabidopsis thaliana A9 promoter and the resulting chimaeric genes introduced into B. napus. A high proportion of the offspring of B. napus antisense A9 plants had very low or undetectable levels of A9 mRNA. However, these plants set seed and had pollen of normal or near normal viability. Therefore, under the conditions studied, the A9 protein appears not to be essential for male fertility in B. napus.