The metallothionein gene, LSC54, shows increased expression during leaf senescence in Brassica napus and Arabidopsis thaliana. A number of abiotic and biotic stresses have been shown to induce senescence-like symptoms in plants and, to investigate this further, the promoter of the LSC54 gene was cloned and fused to the GUS gene and transformed into Arabidopsis. The promoter was highly induced during leaf senescence and also in response to wounding; histochemical analysis indicated that this induction was localised to a few cells close to the wound site. The transgenic Arabidopsis tissue was infected with compatible and incompatible isolates of both the fungal biotroph, Peronospora parasitica and the bacterial necrotroph, Pseudomonas syringae. Incompatible isolates induced rapid cell death (the hypersensitive response) at the site of infection and, with both pathogens, early, localised expression of the GUS gene was observed. In contrast, relatively slow induction of the GUS gene was seen in the compatible interaction and this was correlated with the appearance of senescence-like symptoms in the biotrophic interaction and cell death by necrosis that occurred in response to the necrotrophic pathogen. These results suggest that there are common steps in the signalling pathways that lead to cell death in the hypersensitive response, pathogen induced necrosis and senescence.