Plastid biogenesis in etiolated lupine (Lupinus luteus L.) cotyledons is highly sensitive to cytokinins and abscisic acid. In the presence of the synthetic cytokinin N6-benzylaminopurine, greening and plastid biogenesis is substantially promoted as compared to untreated controls, whereas abscisic acid has an inhibitory effect. Faster greening in cytokinin-treated cotyledons is accompanied by a higher level and slower degradation of the light-sensitive protochlorophyllide-oxidoreductase (POR); while ABA has the opposite effect. The phytohormones appear to modulate POR gene expression, since the steady-state levels of POR mRNA, as well as transcripts of other nuclear genes for plastid proteins, are strongly increased by cytokinin and reduced by abscisic acid treatment. When etiolated lupine cotyledons were illuminated with far-red light prior to phytohormone application, the POR level substantially decreased; this was accompanied by the loss of the phytohormone's effect on greening. Based on these findings it is concluded that the level of POR and the integrity of the prolamellar body is crucial for cytokinin- and abscisic acid-controlled greening following transfer of etiolated lupine cotyledons into the light.