In order to study the regulation of threonine and methionine synthesis in plant seeds, tobacco plants were transformed with a chimeric gene containing the coding DNA sequence of a mutant lysC gene from Escherichia coli fused to a promoter from a phaseolin seed storage protein gene. The bacterial mutant lysC gene codes for aspartate kinase (AK) which is desensitized to feedback inhibition by lysine and threonine. Increased AK activity, compared with control non-transformed plants, was detected in seeds but not in leaves, roots and flowers of the transgenic plants. This expression was accompanied by a significant increase in the levels of free threonine and methionine in the seed. The level of these amino acids also correlated positively with the levels of the bacterial enzyme. No alteration in plant phenotype and 'average seed weight' was observed in any of the transgenic plants, indicating that plant growth and seed development were normal. This study demonstrates, for the first time, that the threonine and methionine biosynthetic pathways are active in plant seeds. Thus, targeting of the production of favorable biosynthetic enzymes to plant seeds may represent a desirable molecular approach for production of crop plants with a more balanced nutritional quality.