Tissue culture conditions and transformation have been established for both aspen and poplar. The use of previously described culture conditions resulted in shoot tip necrosis in the shoot cultures and necrosis of stem and leaf explants. Shoot tip necrosis could be overcome by buffering the medium with 2-(N-morpholino)ethanesulfonic acid and Ca-gluconate and by growing the shoots below 25 degrees C. Necrosis of the explants was probably due to an accumulation of ammonium in the explants and could be overcome by adapting the NO(3) (-)/NH(4) (+) ratio of the media. Stem explants of established shoot cultures of the aspen hybrid Populus alba x P. tremula and of the poplar hybrid Populus trichocarpa x P. deltoides were cocultivated with Agrobacterium strains having chimeric bar and neo genes on their disarmed tDNAs. Transformed aspen shoots were obtained from 30 to 40% of the explants, while transformed poplar shoots were obtained from 10% of the explants. Extracts from the transformed trees contained high phosphinotricin acetyltransferase and neomycin phosphotransferase activities, and the trees contained one to three copies of the chimeric genes. The transformed trees were completely resistant to the commercial preparations of the herbicide phosphinotricin (glufosinate), while control trees were not.