We have shown that amide-linked IAA (indole-3-acetic acid) conjugates accumulated to high levels during maturation of bean seeds (K. Bialek and J.D. Cohen  Plant Physiol 91: 775-779). In the present study, we were interested in the fate of these and other IAA conjugates during seed germination. The content of amide-linked conjugates of IAA in cotyledons declined dramatically during the first hours of imbibition. The rate of decline slowed markedly during the period of the resumption of axis growth. The level of amide-linked IAA conjugates in cotyledons remained relatively high after almost 1 week of germination. The decline of IAA conjugates in cotyledons was followed by a steady increase in the content of both free and amide-linked IAA in the embryonic axes. Amide-linked IAA conjugates were also present in the axes cultured on agar after the cotyledons were removed, which suggests that de novo production of these IAA conjugates occurs in the axis of germinating bean seedlings. A comparison of relative amounts of free and conjugated IAA in the axes of intact seedlings and axes cultured on agar showed lower levels of free IAA and higher levels of conjugated IAA in much slower growing isolated axes. These results suggest a more general role for IAA conjugates in the control of seedling growth than simply to serve as a seed storage form of auxin.