Abstract : Lifetime measurements have been made in the ground-state band of the transitional nucleus 138Gd from coincidence recoil-distance Doppler-shift data. 138Gd nuclei were produced using the 106Cd (36Ar, 2p2n) reaction with a beam energy of 190 MeV. Reduced transition probabilities have been extracted from the lifetime data collected with the Köln plunger placed at the target position of the JUROGAM-II array. The B(E2) values have been compared with predictions from X(5) critical-point calculations, which describe the phase transition between vibrational and axially symmetric nuclear shapes, as well as with IBM-1 calculations at the critical point. While the excitation energies in 138Gd are consistent with X(5) predictions, the large uncertainties associated with the measured B(E2) values cannot preclude vibrational and rotational contributions to the low-lying structure of 138Gd. Although experimental knowledge for the low-lying γ and β-vibrational bands in 138Gd is limited, potential-energy surface calculations suggest an increase in γ softness in the ground-state band. In order to more fully account for the effects of γ softness, the X(5) and IBM-1 calculations need to be extended to include the γ degree of freedom for 138Gd.