Transgenic Cantaloupe Charentais melons (Cucumis melo var. cantalupensis Naud. `Védrantais') exhibiting strong inhibition of ethylene production were used as a model to discriminate between ethylene-regulated and ethylene-independent ripening pathways. Compared to wild-type fruit, transgenic fruit did not undergo significant yellowing of the rind and softening of the flesh. However, these effects were completely reversed by treating transgenic fruit with 50 μL·L-1 exogenous ethylene. Pigmentation of the flesh occurred early before the onset of the climacteric and was thus unaffected by ethylene inhibition in transgenic fruit. Total soluble solids accumulated at the same rate in both types of fruit until 38 days after pollination when wild-type fruit abscissed. However, as ethylene-inhibited fruit failed to develop a peduncular abscission zone, they remained attached to the plant and accumulated higher amounts of sugars, mainly sucrose. Harvesting transgenic fruit resulted in a small but significant increase of internal ethylene associated with softening of the flesh.