Nodulin gene expresison was studied in Vicia sativa (common vetch) root nodules induced by several Rhizobium and Agrobacterium strains. An Agrobacterium transconjugant containing a R. leguminosarum symplasmid instead of its Ti-plasmid, that was previously shown to form empty nodules on pea, induced nodules on Vicia roots in which nodule cells were infected with bacteria. In the Vicia nodules induced by this transconjugant, two so-called early nodulin genes were found to be expressed, whereas in the nodules formed on pea the expression of only one early nodulin gene was detected. In both cases the majority of the nodulin genes was not expressed. Apparently, an intracellular location of the bacteria is not sufficient for the induction of the majority of the nodulin genes. All nodulin genes were expressed in nodules induced by cured Rhizobium strains containing cosmid clones that have a 10 kb nod region of the sym-plasmid in common. Since in tumours no nodulin gene expression was found at all, the Agrobacterium chromosome does not contribute to the induction of nodulin genes. Therefore it is concluded that the signal for the induction of the expression of the two Vicia early nodulin genes is encoded by the nod-region, and the signal involved in the induction of all other nodulin genes has to be located outside the sym-plasmid, on the Rhizobium chromosome. The apparent difference in early nodulin gene expression between pea and Vicia is discussed in the light of the usefulness of Agrobacterium transconjugants in the study of nodulin gene expression.