We have established a new system for studying phytic acid, myo-inositol hexakisphosphate (InsP6) synthesis in suspension-cultured cells of Catharanthus. InsP6 and other intermediates of myo-inositol (Ins) phosphate metabolism were measured using an ion chromatography method. The detection limit for InsP6 was less than 50 nM, which was sufficient to analyze Ins phosphates in living cells. Synthesis of Ins phosphates was induced by incubation in high inorganic phosphate medium. InsP6 was mainly accumulated in vacuoles and was enhanced when cells were grown in high concentration of inorganic phosphates with the cations K+, Ca 2+, or Zn2+. However, there was a strong tendency for InsP6 to accumulate in the vacuole in the presence of Ca2+ and in nonvacuolar compartments when supplied with Zn2+, possibly due to precipitation of InsP6 with Zn2+ in the cytosol. A vesicle transport inhibitor, brefeldin A, stimulated InsP6 accumulation. The amounts of both Ins(3)P1 myo-inositol monophosphate synthase, a key enzyme for InsP6 synthesis, and Ins(1,4,5)P 3 kinase were unrelated to the level of accumulation of InsP 6. The mechanisms for InsP6 synthesis and localization into vacuoles in plant cells are discussed.