Self-pollination of diploid zonal geranium (Pelargonium x hortorum L.H. Bailey) florets leads to a dramatic rise in ethylene production, followed by abscission within 4 h. Neither wounding of the stigma, pollination with tetraploid pollen, nor heat-killed self pollen could elicit as much ethylene production and petal abscission as self-pollination. A cDNA sharing sequence identity with ACC synthase (GACS2) and three different cDNAs sharing sequence identity with ACC oxidase (GACO1, GACO2, GACO3) were isolated from geranium pistils. Transcripts hybridizing with these probes increased slightly in response to self-pollination, but the degree of accumulation in response to various treatments did not correlate with ethylene production. When calculated on a per-plant-part basis, transcripts hybridizing with GACS2 were equally distributed among the stigma+style, sterile ovary, and ovary tissues, but transcripts hybridizing with the three ACC oxidase clones were differentially distributed. All transcripts were differentially expressed among the other tissues of the plant, with GACO1 being the most widely distributed. Ethylene production in geranium pistils was not autocatalytic. Propylene failed to induce ethylene production and ethylene did not induce the accumulation of ACC synthase or ACC oxidase transcripts. ACC accumulated in the stigma and style, and to a smaller extent in the sterile ovary, after pollination. These data support a model of pollination-induced ethylene production by post-transcriptional regulation of ethylene biosynthetic gene expression.