Adventitious shoots were obtained from watermelon [Citrullus lanatus (Thunb.) Matsun. & Nakai] cotyledons incubated on a modified Murashige and Skoog medium containing BA. Initial experiments comparing the effects of BA (0, 5, 10, or 20 μm) and IA4 (0, 0.5, or 5 μm) demonstrated that BA was required for adventitious shoot formation but its concentration in the medium was not critical. The addition of IAA to medium with BA increased callus production and inhibited shoot formation. However, the percentage of responding explants in the best treatment was <30%. Therefore, the manner in which cotyledon explants were prepared and seedling age at the time of explantation was examined to improve the organogenic response. The percentage of explants with shoots was improved by using explants that consisted of cotyledon bases (43%) or cotyledons cut in half longitudinally (39%). A lower percentage (16%) of cotyledons cut longitudinally into four pieces produced shoots. Explants taken from the apical half of cotyledons failed to regenerate shoots. Shoot formation was improved further by using explants from young seedlings. The percentage of explants with shoots was >90% for `Minilee', 64% for S86NE, and 50% for `Jubilee II' when explants were prepared from 5-day-old seedlings. Explants from nongerminated embryos or seedlings germinated for 10, 15, or 20 days produced fewer shoots. The effect of several cytokinins on shoot organogenesis was then examined using the optimized protocol. The percentage of explants with shoots and the number of shoots per explant were about two to four times higher when 5 to 10 μm BA was used compared to the most effective kinetin (20 μm) or thidiazuron (0.1 μm) concentration. The percentage of explants with shoots and the number of shoots per explant were greater for diploid (57% and 2.2, respectively) than for triploid (22% and 0.6, respectively) or tetraploid (20% and 0.8, respectively) lines. Chemical names used: N -(phenylmethyl)-1 H -purin-6-amine (BA); 6-furfurylaminopurine (kinetin); N -phenyl-N' -1,2,3-thiadiazol-5-ylurea (thidiazuron); 1 H -indole3-acetic acid (IAA).