Immature maize (Zea mays L.) embryos were treated with aflatoxin B1 concentrations, ranging from 0.1 μg ml-1 to 25 μg ml-1. Below 5 μg ml-1 aflatoxin B1, root and shoot elongation was not significantly inhibited. Ultrastructurally, root tip cells showed little deterioration, except a possible diffused clearing in mitochondria and plastids. As the toxin concentration was increased above 5 μgml-1, shoot, and particularly root elongation, was progressively inhibited. Associated with this, there was an apparent decrease in the ribosome population. Furthermore, membranes, particularly the vacuolar membrane, became abnormal and vacuolar distension occurred. At 20 and 25 μg ml-1, these effects were exacerbated, and mitochondria and plastid structure was disrupted. At these concentrations, there was evidence of a disruption in lipid metabolism. The results are discussed in the context of known aflatoxin effects on cellular control mechanisms and ultrastructure in animal systems.