The rsw1 mutant of Arabidopsis thaliana is mutated in a gene encoding a cellulose synthase catalytic subunit. Mutant seedlings produce almost as much cellulose as the wild type at 21 degrees C but only about half as much as the wild type at 31 degrees C. We used this conditional phenotype to investigate how reduced cellulose production affects growth and morphogenesis in various parts of the plant. Roots swell in all tissues at 31 degrees C, and temperature changes can repeatedly switch them between swollen and slender growth patterns. Dark-grown hypocotyls also swell, whereas cotyledons and rosette leaf blades are smaller, their surfaces are more irregular and their petioles shorter. Leaf trichomes swell and branch abnormally. Plants readily initiate inflorescences at 31 degrees C which have shorter but not fatter bolts and stomata which bulge above the uneven surface of internodes. Bolts carry the normal number of flowers, but their stigmas protrude beyond the shortened sepals and petals. Anthers dehisce normally, but self-fertilisation is reduced because the stigma is well above the anthers. Anther filaments are short and show a crumpled surface. Viable pollen develops, but female reproductive competence and postpollination development are severely impaired. We conclude that the RSW1 gene is important for cellulose synthesis in many parts of the plant and that reduced cellulose synthesis suppresses organ expansion rather than organ initiation, causes radial swelling only in the root and hypocotyl, but makes the surfaces of many organs uneven. We discuss some possible reasons to explain why different organs vary in their responses. The morphological changes suggest that RSW1 contributes cellulose to primary walls but do not yet exclude a role during secondary-wall deposition.