High-gradient magnetic fields (HGMFs) were used to induce intracellular magnetophoresis of amyloplasts. The HGMFs were generated by placing a small ferromagnetic wedge into a uniform magnetic field or at the gap edge between two permanent magnets. In the vicinity of the tip of the wedge the dynamic factor of the magnetic field, delta(H2/2), was about 10(9) Oe2.cm-1, which subjected the amyloplasts to a force comparable to that of gravity. When roots of 2-d-old seedlings of flax (Linum usitatissimum L.) were positioned vertically and exposed to an HGMF, curvature away from the wedge was transient and lasted approximately 1 h. Average curvature obtained after placing magnets, wedge and seedlings on a 1-rpm clinostat for 2 h was 33 +/- 5 degrees. Roots of horizontally placed control seedlings without rotation curved about 47 +/- 4 degrees. The time course of curvature and changes in growth rate were similar for gravicurvature and for root curvature induced by HGMFs. Microscopy showed displacement of amyloplasts in vitro and in vivo. Studies with Arabidopsis thaliana (L.) Heynh. showed that the wild type responded to HGMFs but the starchless mutant TC7 did not. The data indicate that a magnetic force can be used to study the gravisensing and response system of roots.