Genetic approaches using Arabidopsis thaliana aimed at the identification of mutations affecting events involved in auxin signalling have usually led to the isolation of auxin-resistant mutants. From a selection screen specifically developed to isolate auxin-hypersensitive mutants, one mutant line was selected for its increased sensitivity to auxin (x 2 to 3) for the root elongation response. The genetic analysis of sax1 (hypersensitive to abscisic acid and auxin) indicated that the mutant phenotype segregates as a single recessive Mendelian locus, mapping to the lower arm of chromosome 1. Sax1 seedlings grown in vitro showed a short curled primary root and small, round, dark-green cotyledons. In the greenhouse, adult sax1 plants were characterized by a dwarf phenotype, delayed development and reduced fertility. Further physiological characterization of sax1 seedlings revealed that the most striking trait was a large increase (x 40) in ABA-sensitivity of root elongation and, to a lesser extent, of ABA-induced stomatal closure; in other respects, hypocotyl elongation was resistant to gibberellins and ethylene. These alterations in hormone sensitivity in sax1 plants co-segregated with the dwarf phenotype suggesting that processes involved in cell elongation are modified. Treatment of mutant seedlings with an exogenous brassinosteroid partially rescued a wild-type size, suggesting that brassinosteroid biosynthesis might be affected in sax1 plants. Wild-type sensitivities to ABA, auxin and gibberellins were also restored in sax1 plants by exogenous application of brassinosteroid, illustrating the pivotal importance of the BR-related SAX1 gene.