A general in vitro cloning system was established for four Helleborus species: H. argutifolius, H. foetidus, H. niger and H. orientalis. The plant material was introduced in vitro from axillary buds. A Murashige and Skoog (MS)-based medium (Murashige and Skoog 1962) was used supplemented with 2% (w/v) sucrose, 2-isopentenyladenine (2-iP) and 6-benzylaminopurine (BA). Multiplication rates depended on the genotype and varied from 1.3 for H. foetidus till 3.8 for H. niger. The first results showed that the rooting phase could be done ex vitro. Rooting was induced by a drench for one week in a solution of indole-3-butyric acid (IBA -3 mg l(-1)) and 1-naphthaleneacetic acid (NAA-1 mg l(-1)) at 5 degrees C.