The volatile emanations of cultivars of muskmelon were isolated by three procedures: direct sampling of melon cavity gases via a septum-sealed glass probe cemented to the melon, entrapment of large volumes of headspace gas on porous polymer traps, and steam distillation-extraction of pieces of melon fruit tissue. Essences were subjected to gas chromatographic analysis in high resolution wall-coated open-tubular glass capillary columns. Identifications were based on mass spectra, gas chromatographic retentions, and occasionally infrared spectra. Forty-seven compounds, dominantly esters, were identified and their concentrations during ripening were followed. The biogenetic pathways for selected esters were studied by radioassay of volatiles produced by melon tissue incubated with selected radio-labeled precursors.