The respiration of potato tubers (Solanum tuberosum var. Russet Burbank) which have been kept at room temperature for 10 days is stimulated upon subsequent treatment with C(2)H(4) (10 microliters per liter) and O(2). The respiratory rise reaches a peak in 24 to 30 hours and thereafter declines. Coincident with the rise in tuber respiration is an increase in the respiratory rates of fresh slices and isolated mitochondria. Slices and mitochondria from C(2)H(4)- and O(2)-treated tubers also display substantial resistance to CN, and the resistant respiration is inhibited by hydroxamates.The longer the tubers are stored after harvest, the less effective is C(2)H(4) in causing CN resistance in slices and mitochondria from treated tubers. Addition of 10% CO(2) to the C(2)H(4)-O(2) mixture, however, causes extensive CN resistance to develop, even in slices and mitochondria from old tubers. The results show that C(2)H(4), O(2), and CO(2) act synergistically to induce alternative path development in potatoes.