The effect of Indole-3-acetic acid (IAA) on apical dominance in apple (Malus domestica Borkh.) buds was examined by studying changes In proton density (free water) and membrane lipid composition in lateral buds. Decapitation induced budbreak and enhanced lateral bud growth. IAA replaced apical control of lateral bud paradormancy. Maximal inhibition was obtained when IAA was applied immediately after the apical bud was removed. Delaying this application weakens the effect of IAA. An increase in proton density in lateral buds was observable 2 days after decapitation, whereas the change in membrane lipid composition occurred 4 days later. Decapitating the terminal bud induced an increase in membrane galacto- and phospholipids. and the ratio of unsaturated to corresponding saturated fatty acids. Decapitation also induced a decrease in the ratio of free sterols to phospholipids in lateral buds. Application of IAA to the terminal end of decapitated shoots inhibited the increase of proton density and prevented changes in the membrane lipid composition of lateral buds.