Chromatin condensation and nDNA fragmentation, indicators of apoptosis in mammalian cells, occur in plant cells during senescence and following induction by chemical agents. In Nicotiana plumbaginifolia cells, camptothecin, okadaic acid, salicylic acid, hydrogen peroxide, and the calcium ionophore A23187 induced chromatin condensation and nDNA fragmentation. Exposure of cells to low concentrations or removal of the chemical agent resulted in an initial phase of chromatin condensation, followed by its reversal. A further feature of apoptosis in mammalian cells, annexin V binding, indicative of phosphotidylserine exposure, was also confirmed in relation to the other events in the apoptotic pathway. With respect to flow cytometric characteristics, apoptosis triggered by a variety of chemicals occurs in plant cells in a manner closely related to that in mammalian cells. However, the extent of chromatin condensation is substantially greater, and in the early stages is reversible.