BACKGROUND : Land preparation is an important component of fragrant rice production. However, the effect of tillage on fragrant rice production is unclear, especially regarding the biosynthesis of 2-acetyl-1-pyrroline (2-AP), which is the main compound of the unique aroma of fragrant rice. This study aimed to explore 2-AP biosynthesis in fragrant rice under different tillage regimes. Three tillage methods were applied in the present study: conventional rotary tillage (CK) as the control, plough tillage (PT), and no-tillage (NT). RESULTS : Compared with CK, the PT treatment increased 2-AP content in grain, upregulated the activity of ornithine aminotransferase (OAT) and increased contents of 1-pyrroline and pyrroline-5-carboxylic acid (P5C). Furthermore, the PT treatment increased the grain yield and nitrogen accumulation of fragrant rice. Meanwhile, the 2-AP content in the grain produced under the NT treatment was significantly higher than that in the grain produced under both the PT and CK treatments due to the enhancement of proline content and the activities of proline dehydrogenase (PDH) and △1-pyrroline-5-carboxylic acid synthetase (P5CS). However, the present study observed that the overall production of fragrant rice under NT conditions was inferior due to lower yield, nitrogen accumulation, and anti-oxidative enzymatic activities. Moreover, the organic matter content and soil microorganism quantity increased due to PT and NT treatments. CONCLUSIONS : Compared to CK, PT improved fragrant rice grain yield and nitrogen accumulation and induced an increase in OAT activity and led to an increase in 2-AP concentration. No-tillage also produced increased 2-AP content in grain by enhancing PDH and P5CS activities but limited yields and nitrogen accumulation in fragrant rice.