The effect of the ethylene antagonists norbornadiene and silver nitrate and the ethylene precursor l-aminocyclopropane-l-carboxylic acid (ACC) on Zea mays plant regeneration was studied. A 12-fold increase in plant regeneration, as measured by number of plants obtained per gram fresh weight from callus cultures of maize inbreds Pa91 and H99, was obtained by 250 μM norbornadiene and 100 μM silver nitrate treatments. An increase in amout of nonregenerable tissue and a 68% decrease in plant regeneration were associated with callus treated with 1 mM ACC. Ethylene emanation from 1 mM ACC treated callus reached a maximum of 170 nl g(-1) h(-1) after 3 days compared to 7 nl g(-1) h(-1) for the control. The free proline content was up to 80% lower in 1 mM ACC treated callus grown for 30 days on medium with or without 12 mM proline, respectively, as compared to each control. These studies indicate that ethylene action inhibitors such as norbornadiene and silver nitrate can be used to increase plant regeneration efficiency from maize callus cultures.