The effects of cold girdling of the transport phloem at the hypocotyl of Ricinus communis on solute and water transport were investigated. Effects on the chemical composition of saps of phloem and xylem as well as of stem tissue were studied by conventional techniques and the water flow in the phloem was investigated by NMR imaging. Cold girdling reduced the concentration of sucrose but not that of inorganic solutes or amino acids in phloem saps. The possibility that cold treatment inhibited the retrieval of sucrose into the phloem, following leaching from the sieve tubes along a chemical gradient is discussed. Leaching of other solutes did not occur, as a result of missing promoting gradients in stem tissue. Following 3 d of cold girdling, sugar concentration increased and starch was synthesized and accumulated in stem tissue above the cold girdling region and along the cold-treated phloem pathway due to leaching of sugars from the phloem. Only in the very first period of cold girdling (< 15–30 min) was mass flow inhibited, but recovered in the rest of cold treatment period to values similar to the control period before and the recovery period after the cold treatment. It is concluded that cold treatment affected phloem transport through two independent and reversible processes: (1) a permanent leaching of sucrose from the phloem stem without normal retrieval during cold treatment, and (2) a short-term inhibition of mass flow at the beginning of cold treatment, possibly involving P proteins. Possible further mechanisms for reversible inhibition of water flow are discussed.