Seed germination of four Litchi chinensis Sonn. cultivars (`Deshi', `Kasba', `Purbi', and `Early Bedana') was studied under various conditions, viz. in soil beds exposed to sunlight or in shade, in sand beds exposed to sunlight or in shade, and on moist filter paper. Among all, shaded, humid sand at 35 ± 2C gave the highest germination. Delaying sowing seeds after removal from the fruit significantly reduced germination. Litchi seeds held in polyethylene bags up to 4 days at 37 ± 2C at 90% relative humidity delayed loss of seed viability. Germination was improved by ethephon in `Deshi' and `Early Bedana', by IBA in `Deshi' and `Purbi', and by 100 mm GA3 in all litchi cultivars. Cultivars responded differently to growth regulators, with `Deshi' responding significantly better than `Purbi', `Kasba', or `Early Bedana'. These studies point to the recalcitrant nature of litchi seeds. Chemical names used: gibberellic acid (GA3); indole butyric acid (IBA); 2-chloroethylphosphonic acid (ethephon).