The activities of enzymes of both sucrose and fructan metabolism were measured in chicory (Cichorium intybus L. cv. Turbo) plants during early vegetative growth. From 21 to 42 d after sowing (phase I), carbohydrates were used for structural growth and sucrose was predominantly cleaved by acid invertase whereas neutral invertase (EC 188.8.131.52) and sucrose synthase (EC 184.108.40.206) activities were low. From 49 to 63 d after sowing (phase II) a cambium formed producing secondary tissues, concomitant with induced sucrose:sucrose 1-fructosyl transferase (1-SST; EC 220.127.116.11) and fructan:fructan-1-fructosyl transferase (EC 18.104.22.168) activities, and fructan synthesis in the roots. Accumulation of 1-SST mRNA occurred at the onset of thickening, indicating that 1-SST is controlled at a transcriptional level. Acid invertase activity gradually increased during phase I and remained high during early phase II. It subsequently decreased. The pattern of invertase mRNA accumulation correlated with the enzyme activities, indicating that acid invertase Is controlled at the transcriptional level. Both acid invertase and 1-SST probably contributed to the sink strength in the root at the beginning of phase II.