BACKGROUND : Collenchyma cells occur widely in eudicotyledons and provide mechanical support for growing organs. At maturity, the cells are elongated and have thick, non-lignified walls, which in celery contain cellulose and pectic polysaccharides, together with xyloglucans and heteroxylans and heteromannans. A previous study suggested that at least some of the collenchyma cell wall in celery is laid down after expansion has stopped and is thus secondary. In the present study, we re-examined this. We used chemical analysis and immunomicroscopy to determine changes in the polysaccharide compositions of these walls during development. Additionally, solid-state NMR spectroscopy was used to examine changes in polysaccharide mobilities during development. RESULTS : We showed the collenchyma walls are deposited only during cell expansion, i.e. they are primary walls. During cell-wall development, analytical and immunomicroscopy studies showed that within the pectic polysaccharides there were no overall changes in the proportions of homogalacturonans, but there was a decrease in their methyl esterification. There was also a decrease in the proportions of the (1 → 5)-α-L-arabinan and (1 → 4)-β-D-galactan side chains of rhamnogalacturonan I. The proportions of cellulose increased, and to a lesser extent those of xyloglucans and heteroxylans. Immunomicroscopy showed the homogalacturonans occurred throughout the walls and were most abundant in the middle lamellae and middle lamella junctions. Although the (1 → 4)-β-D-galactans occurred only in the rest of the walls, some of the (1 → 5)-α-L-arabinans also occurred in the middle lamellae and middle lamella junctions. During development, the location of the xyloglucans changed, being confined to the middle lamellae and middle lamella junctions early on, but later occurred throughout the walls. The location of the heteroxylans also changed, occurring mostly in the outer walls in young cells, but were more widely distributed in mature cells. Solid-state NMR spectroscopy showed that particularly cellulose, but also homogalacturonans, decreased in mobility during development. CONCLUSIONS : Our studies showed that celery collenchyma cell walls are primary and that during their development the polysaccharides undergo dynamic changes. Changes in the mobilities of cellulose and homogalacturonans were consistent with the cell walls becoming stiffer as expansion ceases.