Transgenic tobacco (Nicotiana tabacum L.) plants overexpressing the enzyme L-phenylalanine ammonia-lyase (PAL; EC 184.108.40.206) were grown from seeds of a primary transformant containing the bean PAL2 gene, which had shown homology-dependent silencing of the endogenous tobacco PAL genes. Analysis of endogenous and transgene-encoded PAL transcripts and protein in the primary transformant (T0) and first-generation (T1) overexpressor plants indicated that the transgene-encoded PAL is the cause of the greater than wild-type levels of PAL activity (up to 5- and 2-fold greater in leaf and stem tissue, respectively) in the T1 plants. Leaves of PAL-overexpressing plants contained increased levels of the hydroxycinnamic acid ester chlorogenic acid but not of the flavonoid rutin, indicating that PAL is the key control point for flux into chlorogenic acid. In addition, levels of the glucoside of 4- coumaric acid increased in the overexpressing plants, suggesting that the 4- coumarate:coenzyme A ligase or coumarate hydroxylase reactions might have become limiting. These results help to define the regulatory architecture of the phenylpropanoid pathway and indicate the possibility of engineering- selective changes in this complex metabolic pathway by overexpression of a single early pathway gene.