The relationship between cell elongation and microtubules (MTs) was investigated in characean internodal cells (Nitellops obtusa). First, we examined the immunofluorescent localization of MTs in different living stages under confocal laser scanning microscope. In young, rapidly elongating cells, MTs were predominantly transverse to the long axis of the cell. As the relative growth rate fell, transverse MTs gradually decreased, and in non-growing cells, longitudinally oriented cortical MTs became most pronounced. Moreover, cells in different living stages responded to the treatment of oryzalin (microtubule-disrupting agent) differently, young active internodal cells seemed to be more sensitive. After 40 min incubation of 10 micromol/L oryzalin, nearly all cortical MTs in the elongating cells depolymerized. However, in the old, non-growing cells, some MT fragments still remained after 3 h treatment of oryzalin. Second, we measured the cell growth rates with and without the treatment of oryzalin. In young growing cells treated with 10 micromol/L oryzalin, the elongation rates were inhibited obviously. When the oryzalin was removed, the elongation rates could be recovered to some extent. Interestingly, a time-gap existed between microtubule disassembly (40 min) and cessation of cell elongation (100 min). Our data confirmed the evidence that MTs are involved in cell elongation.