We have identified two temperature-sensitive peroxisome-deficient mutants of Hansenula polymorpha (ts6 and ts44) within a collection of ts mutants which are impaired for growth on methanol at 43 degrees C but grow well at 35 degrees C. In both strains peroxisomes were completely absent in cells grown at 43 degrees C; the major peroxisomal matrix enzymes alcohol oxidase, dihydroxyacetone synthase and catalase were synthesized normally but assembled into the active enzyme protein in the cytosol. As in wild-type cells, these enzymes were present in peroxisomes under permissive growth conditions (< or = 37 degrees C). However, at intermediate temperatures (38-42 degrees C) they were partly peroxisome-bound and partly resided in the cytosol. Genetic analysis revealed that both mutant phenotypes were due to monogenic recessive mutations mapped in the same gene, designated PER13. After a shift of per13-6ts cells from restrictive to permissive temperature, new peroxisomes were formed within 1 h. Initially one--or infrequently a few--small organelles developed which subsequently increased in size and multiplied by fission during prolonged permissive growth. Neither mature peroxisomal matrix nor membrane proteins, which were present in the cytosol prior to the temperature shift, were incorporated into the newly formed organelles. Instead, these proteins remained unaffected (and active) in the cytosol concomitant with further peroxisome development. Thus in H.polymorpha alternative mechanisms of peroxisome biogenesis may be possible in addition to multiplication by fission upon induction of the organelles by certain growth substrates.