Spatial and temporal changes in F-actin during polarity establishment in Pelvetia compressa zygotes were investigated using vital staining with rhodamine phalloidin (RP). F-actin was localized to a patch in the cortex of young zygotes. When unilateral light was applied to induce a growth axis (photopolarization) in a population of zygotes, the cortical F-actin patches localized at the shaded pole (rhizoid pole of growth axis). Treatments that prevented photopolarization prevented localization of F-actin patches to the shaded pole. When the direction of the light treatment was reversed, the previous growth axis was abandoned and a new axis was established in the opposite direction. The F-actin patch repositioned to the new rhizoid pole within minutes of light reversal, indicating that F-actin was an immediate marker of the nascent growth axis. Repositioning probably occurred by disassembly of the initial patch and reassembly of a new one. The patch grew in size as zygotes developed, eventually becoming a ring just prior to rhizoid outgrowth. The rhizoid emerged at the site of the F-actin ring and, following germination, the ring was located in the subapical zone of the elongating tip.