The distribution of ATP in tomato seeds was visualized by monitoring the luminescence of frozen sections on top of a gel containing all the components of the luciferase reaction, but excluding ATP. ATP was imaged in germinating tomato seeds at intervals of 3, 6, 17, 24 and 48 h and in seeds with primary or secondary dormancy. ATP was present mainly in the embryo and concentrated in the radicle tip towards the completion of germination. In contrast to germinating seeds, ATP was distributed more evenly in dormant seeds. For germination, the ratio of ATP concentration in the radicle tip versus cotyledons was decisive, rather than the absolute concentration.