The effect of NaCl at sublethal concentration was observed on germinating seeds of salt-sensitive and -resistant rice cultivars with respect to the level of proline regulatory enzymes and the growth of seedlings on different days of early germination period. The two enzymes of proline biosynthesis and catabolism, Δ-pyrroline-5-carboxylate reductase and L-proline dehydrogenase, were taken into consideration to observe the effects of 100 mM NaCl on their activities in both rice cultivars. The activity of Δ-pyrroline-5-carboxylate reductase in salt-resistant cultivar was increased twice after 5 d in 100 mM NaCl. Simultaneously, the activity of L-proline dehydrogenase was decreased significantly. High activities of Δ-pyrroline-5-carboxylate reductase may be regarded as a biological marker for screening the sensitive and resistant cultivars of rice seed under NaCl-salinity. © 1992 Institute of Experimental Botany.