During the development of the lily (Lilium), three phases can be distinguished: the juvenile, the vegetative adult and the flowering phase. Juvenile bulblets sprout with one or a few leaves whereas vegetative adult bulblets sprout with a stem with elongated internodes. The transition to the vegetative adult phase was studied in lily (Lilium x cv. Star Gazer) bulblets regenerating on bulb scale segments in vitro. The phase change was marked by the development of a tunica-corpus structure in the apical meristem which leads to the formation of an actively growing stem primordium. This structure is absent in juvenile bulblets. Juvenile bulblets first developed competence for phase change during a culture period of at least 6 weeks at 25degreesC. Subsequent induction of the phase change occurred during a period of 2 weeks at lower temperature (15degreesC). A major factor influencing phase transition was bulblet weight. Small bulblets never formed a stem whereas large bulblets always formed a stem under inducing conditions. Large bulblets more often formed a stem than small ones but the relation between bulb growth and phase transition was not absolute. A high sucrose concentration, a large explant and a prolonged period for competence development stimulated bulb growth but also phase transition independently of growth. Lowering the concentration of MS-minerals reduced bulb growth but did not affect phase transition. Under these conditions, phase change was correlated with a low phosphorus content.