Carrot (Daucus carota L.) cells were transformed with Agrobacterium tumefaciens strains containing 3[prime]-truncated mouse ornithine decarboxylase (ODC) cDNA under the control of a cauliflower mosaic virus 35S promoter. A neomycin phosphotransferase gene linked with a nopaline synthase promoter was used to select transformed cell lines on kanamycin. Although the nontransformed cells contained no ODC, high amounts of mouse-specific ODC activity were observed in the transformed cells. Transgenic cells showed a significant increase in the cellular content of putrescine compared to control cells. Spermidine, however, remained unaffected. Not only did the transformed cells exhibit improved somatic embryogenesis in the auxin-free medium, they also regenerated some embryos in the presence of inhibitory concentrations of 2,4-dichlorophenoxyacetic acid. These cells acquired tolerance to [alpha]-difluoromethylarginine (a potent inhibitor of arginine decarboxylase) at concentrations that inhibit growth as well as embryogenesis in nontransformed carrot cells, showing that the mouse ODC can replace the carrot arginine decarboxylase for putrescine biosynthesis in the transgenic cells.