The effect of auxin on the mass per area in the outer epidermal walls of third internodes of Pisum sativum L. cv. Alaska grown in dim red light was investigated using interference microscopy, and rates of net deposition of wall material were calculated. Examination of these net rates under different growth conditions showed that there is no simple relationship between the deposition of mass and growth. Net deposition can be proportional to growth when sufficient substrate for wall synthesis is available, as in intact plants, and in segments treated with indole-3-acetic acid (IAA) plus glucose. Net deposition can cause thickening of the walls when growth is small, as in the case of segments kept without IAA in the presence or absence of glucose, or segments whose growth is inhibited with mannitol. When substrate is limited and growth is large, however, wall expansion can occur with no net deposition, or an actual net loss of wall material can even take place. Auxin appears to induce a breakdown in the walls of segments treated in the absence of glucose, although it promotes synthesis when glucose is present. It is likely that IAA always induces a breakdown of wall material, but that the breakdown is masked when substrate is available for synthesis. Our results indicate that pea epidermal cells have two different auxin-stimulated mechanisms, wall synthesis and wall breakdown, potentially available to loosen their outer epidermal walls to bring about cell enlargement, alternatives which could be employed to different extents depending on substrate conditions.