We have used light and electron microscopy to study the secretion of phenolic substances into the primary walls and cross walls of zygotes and embryos of the brown algae Hormosira banksii (Turner) Decaisne (Hormosiraceae) and Acrocarpia paniculata (Turner) Areschoug (Cystoseiraceae). Phenolic compounds packaged within physodes are a major cytoplasmic component of brown algae. Physodes accumulate at the zygote periphery early in development and are secreted into the primary zygote wall. At germination, physodes accumulate at the rhizoid tip. The first sign of impending cytokinesis is the lining up of these phenolic vesicles in the plane of cell division. This precedes the arrival of other wall constituents. Physodes, together with other wall components, contribute to the development of the cell plate. We conclude that phenolic compounds play an important role in cell-wall construction in these species.