Continuous treatment with 8% ethanol doubled the vase life of `White Sim' carnation (Dianthus caryophyllus L.) flowers. Other alcohols, other concentrations of ethanol, or pulse treatments with up to 8% ethanol had little or no effect. Butanol and longer-chain alcohols shortened vase life and caused the flower stem to fold. During their eventual senescence, the petals of ethanol-treated flowers did not inroll; instead, individual petals dried slowly from their tips. Very little ethylene was produced by ethanol-treated flowers, and the normal increase in ACC content and EFE activity was also suppressed. Ethanol treatment also decreased the flowers' sensitivity to exogenous ethylene.