This work was carried out to test whether an early radicle emergence count after controlled deterioration (CD) predicts seedling emergence in tomato lots as well as a final count after CD. Controlled deterioration tests were carried out on seeds of 12 tomato varieties at 24% moisture content (m.c.), 47 and 49 degrees C, for 48, 72, 96 and 120 hours. Single radicle emergence was counted 2, 3 and 4 days after sowing and final standard normal germination percentages were calculated after 14 days. Seedling emergence (SE) was conducted in peat moss at 20 +/- 3 degrees C, in an unheated glasshouse. Early radicle emergence counts gave higher correlation coefficient values than final counts after CD. Fourth day counts after 72 hours CD at 47 and 49 degrees C gave the highest r values (0.92 and 0.79 at 47 degrees C, 0.88 and 0.85 at 49 degrees C for SE and MET, respectively). Early radicle emergence count after CD can be considered as an alternative, quicker method for vigour evaluation instead of final count after CD.