The anatomy of developing pea seeds is characterized by transfer cells present in both coats and cotyledons at the maternal/filial interface. To determine the nature and cellular localization of sucrose transporters in pea seeds, a full-length clone of a sucrose/H+ symporter ( PsSUT1) was isolated from a cotyledon cDNA library. Northern blot analyses of different organs showed that PsSUT1 is expressed in non-seed tissues, including sucrose sinks and sources. Within developing seeds, transcripts of PsSUT1 and PsAHA1 genes were detected in all tissues, while transcripts of a sucrose binding protein ( GmSBP) were confined to cotyledon epidermal transfer cells. Signal intensities of PsSUT1 and PsAHA1 transcripts and protein products were most pronounced in the thin-walled parenchyma cells of seed coats and epidermal transfer cells of cotyledons. For cotyledons, the highest transporter densities were localized to those portions of plasma membranes lining the wall ingrowth regions of epidermal transfer cells. Responses of [14C]sucrose influx to metabolic inhibitors indicated that proton-coupled sucrose transport was operative in both seed coats and cotyledons. Cotyledon epidermal transfer cells were shown to support the highest sucrose flux. Maximal transport activity was found to account for the sucrose flux differences between seed tissues. Intercellular movement of the symplasmic tracer, 5-(6)-carboxyfluorescein (CF), demonstrated that symplasmic pathways interconnect the vascular tissues to thin-walled parenchyma transfer cells of seed coats and, for cotyledons, epidermal transfer cells to storage parenchyma cells.