The plant growth hormone auxin typified by indoleacetic acid (IAA) transcriptionally activates early genes in pea, PS-IAA4/5 and PS-IAA6, that are members of a multigene family encoding short-lived nuclear proteins. To gain first insight into the biological role of PS-IAA4/5 and PS-IAA6, promoter-beta-glucuronidase (GUS) gene fusions were constructed and their expression during early development of transgenic tobacco seedlings was examined. The comparative analysis reveals spatial and temporal expression patterns of both genes that correlate with cells, tissues, and developmental processes known to be affected by auxin. GUS activity in seedlings of both transgenic lines is located in the root meristem, sites of lateral root initiation and in hypocotyls undergoing rapid elongation. In addition, mutually exclusive cell-specific expression is evident. For instance, PS-IAA4/5-GUS but not PS-IAA6-GUS is expressed in root vascular tissue and in guard cells, whereas only PS-IAA6-GUS activity is detectable in glandular trichomes and redistributes to the elongating side of the hypocotyl upon gravitropic stimulation. Expression of PS-IAA4/5 and PS-IAA6 in elongating, dividing, and differentiating cell types indicates multiple functions during development. The common and yet distinct activity patterns of both genes suggest a combinatorial code of spatio-temporal co-expression of the various PS-IAA4/5-like gene family members in plant development that may mediate cell-specific responses to auxin.