[en] The rac mutant of Nicotiana tabacum L. cv. Xanthii is impaired in adventitious root formation. The objective of the present study was to determine whether or not the root induction phase occurs in the rac mutant, and if so, to determine what causes the induced cells to become incapable of organising root primordia. To this end, rac and wild-type shoots were cultured in vitro for 7 days under conditions suitable for obtaining roots in the wild-type (i.e., exposure to 5 muM indole-3-butyric acid for 4 h, and then transfer to hormone-free medium), and then histologically and biochemically analysed during culture. The variations in peroxidase activity, and in cellular levels of auxins and polyamines revealed that the induction phase occurs in rac shoots, although it lasts longer than in the wild-type ones. Furthermore, both auxin and polyamines were consistently higher in rac shoots compared to the wild-type. After induction, auxin and putrescine levels abruptly decreased in the wild-type shoots, whereas they decreased much more slowly in the rac mutant. The histological analysis of the wild-type shoots showed that the abrupt decrease in auxin and polyamine levels were correlated with a normal initiation phase. In fact, wild-type shoots showed cell divisions in the procambium already at day 2, resulting in the formation of root primordia at day 4, and in root emergence between days 5 and 7. In rac shoots, despite the fact that the procambium cells were activated to undergo cell division, the initiation phase was highly perturbed, and the procambial cells developed tracheary elements instead of adventitious roots. The different morphogenic responses of the two genotypes are discussed in the light of the differences in auxin content after the induction phase.