The uptake and metabolism of the cytokinin benzyl adenine (BA) was compared in two lines of Petunia hybrida Vilm. differing in their shoot organogenic response. Leaf transfer experiments using shoot induction medium containing 4.4 micromolar BA showed that leaf explants from petunia line St40 required a shoot induction period of 6 to 10 days for commitment to shoot organogenesis; whereas leaf explants from petunia TLV1 required 12 to 28 days. The short induction period of petunia St40 and the higher organogenic response was positively associated with a threefold higher absorption of BA from the medium, an increased BA ribotide metabolite pool, the presence of BA within the explant during the shoot induction period, and the production of an unidentified metabolite C. However, the study of petunia TLV1 leaf explants showed that neither BA nor metabolite C are required during the shoot induction period for eventual shoot development. The longer shoot induction period of TLV1 was associated with low BA uptake during 24 days, a decreasing ribotide metabolite pool, the absence of benzyl adenosine triphosphate and metabolite C throughout the study, and the absence of BA within the explant during the shoot induction period. Differences in the shoot organogenic response of these related plant lines have been shown to be associated with differences in exogenous cytokinin uptake and the subsequent metabolism of that hormone.