Cell wall changes in `Fantasia' nectarines [Prunus persica (L) Batsch var. nectarina (Ait) maxim] were determined after storage at 0C with or without intermittent warming (at 20C at 2-week intervals) and after ripening. For comparison, fruit were examined at harvest and after ripening without storage. Fruit stored continuously at 0C for 6 weeks became mealy during ripening, whereas fruit subjected to intermittent warming ripened normally. Ripening immediately after harvest was associated with solubilization and subsequent depolymerization of pectic polymers and a net loss of galactosyl residues from the cell wall. No solubilization of pectic polymers from the cell wall occurred during storage of fruit at 0C. Mealy fruit, ripened after continuous storage at 0C, showed only limited solubilization of pectins and depolymerization, high relative molecular weight (M) polymers being predominant. During ripening after storage, pectic polymer solubilization was not as extensive in intermittently warmed fruit as in fruit undergoing normal ripening but solubilized polymers were depolymerized, low M uronic acid-rich polymers becoming predominant. Intermittent warming of fruit resulted in significant softening during storage, alleviating the development of mealiness by promotion of cell wall changes associated with normal ripening.