Expression of phosphate starvation inducible genes was studied during recovery from phosphate starvation of Arabidopsis thaliana. Genes analysed were ACP5 (encoding an acid phosphatase), RNS1 (encoding an RNase), At4 and IPS1 (both of unknown function), Pht1;7 and Pht2;1 (encoding phosphate transporters). Plants grown at limiting phosphate exhibited reduced growth rate and accumulated anthocyanins, soluble sugars, and starch. Re-supply of phosphate resulted in dramatic uptake of phosphate, increased growth rate and decreased levels of anthocyanins, soluble sugars, and starch in leaf tissue. In both shoots and roots re-supplied with Pi, transcript levels decreased rapidly, and first changes were observed within 30 min. These alterations in gene expression occurred before the content of carbohydrates decreased, indicating that transcriptional regulation was due to phosphate sensing, and not a secondary effect of carbon accumulation. The data reveal different response rates for individual genes and demonstrate that roots and shoots can differ with respect to both timing and genes responding. In general, the changes in transcriptional activity in roots preceded the changes in shoots. Furthermore, transcriptional regulation was observed in isolated roots and shoots. This implies that roots do not strictly require a signal from the shoot, and vice versa, in order to respond to phosphate starvation.