A meiotic time-course for Arabidopsis pollen mother cells has been established based on BrdU pulse-labelling of nuclear DNA in the meiotic S-phase. Labelled flower buds were sampled at intervals and the progress of labelled cells through meiosis assessed by anti-BrdU antibody detection. The overall duration of meiosis from the end of meiotic S-phase to the tetrad stage, at 18.5degreesC, was 33 h, which is about three times longer than the mitotic cell cycle in seedlings. The onset of leptotene was defined by reference to the loading of the axis-associated protein Asy1, and this permitted the detection of a definite G2 stage, having a maximum duration of 9 h. It is likely, from two independent sources of evidence, that the meiotic S-phase has a duration similar to that of G2. The durations of leptotene and zygotene/pachytene are 6 h and 15.3 h, respectively, but the remaining meiotic division stages are completed very rapidly, within 3 h. The establishment of a meiotic time-course provides a framework for determining the relative timing and durations of key molecular events of meiosis in Arabidopsis in relation to cytologically defined landmarks. In addition, it will be important in a broader developmental context for determining the timing of epigenetic mechanisms that are known or suspected to occur during meiosis.