We investigated the molecular and physiological processes of sugar uptake and metabolism during pollen tube growth and plant fertilization. In vitro germination assays showed that petunia (Petunia hybrida) pollen can germinate and grow not only in medium containing sucrose (Suc) as a carbon source, but also in medium containing the monosaccharides glucose (Glc) or fructose (Fru). Furthermore, high-performance liquid chromatography analysis demonstrated a rapid and complete conversion of Sue into equimolar amounts of Glc and Fru when pollen was cultured in a medium containing 2% Suc. This indicates the presence of wall-bound invertase activity and uptake of sugars in the form of monosaccharides by the growing pollen tube. A cDNA designated pmt1 (petunia monosaccharide transporter 1), which is highly homologous to plant monosaccharide transporters, was isolated from petunia. Pmt1 belongs to a small gene family and is expressed specifically in the male gametophyte, but not in any other vegetative or floral tissues. Pmt1 is activated after the first pollen mitosis, and high levels of mRNA accumulate in mature and germinating pollen. A model describing the transport of sugars to the style, the conversion of Sue into Glc and Fru, and the active uptake by a monosaccharide transporter into the pollen tube is presented.