Water bamboo shoot (WBS) (Zizania caduciflora L.) is a fleshy aquatic vegetable susceptible to lignification. In this study, effects of 1-methylcyclopropene (1-MCP) anti-ethylene treatment on lignification of harvested peeled WBS were investigated.Peeled shoots were treated with 0.5 µL L(-1) 1-MCP for 20 h at 20 °C and then stored at 20 °C for up to 9 days. Sensory quality, lignin content and activities of the lignification-associated enzymes peroxidase (POD) and phenylalanine ammonia lyase (PAL) were evaluated. Expression of expansin (ZcExp) was also assessed. 1-MCP application maintained better sensory quality and inhibited the increase in lignin content. Lessened lignification was associated with reduced activities of POD and PAL. Moreover, 1-MCP-treated shoots showed lower expression of the ZcExp gene.1-MCP pretreatment suppressed the synthesis of lignin and thereby delayed lignification in peeled WBS.