Leaf slices sampled from winter rape plants (Brassica napus L., var. oleifera L., cv. GórczaánAski), grown in cold (5°C), showed an increase in the dark respiration rate (measured at 25°C) as compared to slices cut from control plants (grown at 20/15°C). The effect of low temperature was most pronounced after 4 days of plant growth in the cold. Oxygen uptake by control slices was 60% inhibited by 1 mM KCN and was insensitive to 2.5 mM salicylhydroxamic acid (SHAM). On the contrary, respiration of leaf slices from cold-pretreated plants was more resistant to cyanide (35% inhibition after 4 days of cold treatment) and was 30% inhibited by SHAM. The patterns of cold-induced changes in total respiratory activity and in the estimated activity of alternative pathway were similar. It seems that in leaf slices from plants grown in the cold, the cyanide-resistant, alternative pathway participates in oxygen uptake. Cold treatment of plants also brought about a 4-fold increase in the level of soluble sugars, which reached a maximum on day 4 of exposure to cold. Addition of sucrose to the incubation medium resulted in an immediate increase in oxygen uptake by slices with low endogenous sugar level. The respiration stimulated by sucrose addition was more resistant to cyanide than the basal respiration and it was inhibited by SHAM. It is concluded that the operation of the alternative pathway is responsible for the increased oxygen uptake by the cold-grown winter rape leaves and it may be induced by an increased sugar supply for respiratory processes.