GLK-8903, an experimental product whose main ingredient is produced by hydrogenation of a primary alcohol extracted from plants, showed significant potential in protecting bean (Phaseolus vulgaris L.) plants from chilling injury. The GLK-8903 protection mechanism was assessed by examining several physiological and biochemical responses. The decline in leaf water potential and the increase in osmotic potential caused by chilling exposure to 4C (day/night) were minimized by the application of GLK-8903. Chilling causes an increase in electrolyte leakage, an indication of chilling injury of the plasma membrane. Increased electrolyte leakage was reduced significantly in the GLK-8903-treated plants during chilling. This minimized leakage may be due to less damage of the plasma membrane. Plasmolysis and deplasmolysis studies of the epidermal cells suggest that GLK-8903 is able to reduce the plasma membrane perturbation in the chilling environment, as evident by: 1) the lower permeability coefficient to urea at 4C, and 2) the swelling of protoplasts in the cells of untreated tissues after chilling exposure with no swelling of the protoplast being observed in the GLK-8903-treated cells. Malondialdehyde (MDA), a product of lipid peroxidation, increased more in untreated controls than in treated plants exposed to 4C. Plasma membrane ATPase activity decreased less in GLK-8903-treated plants than in untreated controls after 3 days at 4C. The mechanism of GLK-8903-alleviated chilling injury is discussed.