There is currently an intense interest in understanding how pollination and fertilization in flowering plants is controlled. This is because of the central and crucial importance of sexual reproduction in plant lifecycles. Plants have evolved many complex mechanisms to prevent self-fertilization, and it is thought that this may partially explain the great success of the angiosperms. The journey of discovery in determining the components and mechanisms involved in these processes has been ongoing for some time. Recent data have provided fresh insights into some aspects of what is involved in controlling pollen germination and pollen-tube growth, both in normal pollination and in self-incompatibility.