A cDNA clone, AtELP1 (Arabidopsis thaliana EGF receptor-like protein) was isolated from an Arabidopsis cDNA library with an oligonucleotide probe corresponding to a highly conserved region of animal beta-integrins. The cloning of this cDNA was previously reported and it has been proposed that AtELP might be a receptor involved in intracellular trafficking. In the present work, using two specific independent sets of anti-peptide antibodies, we show that AtELP1 is mainly located in the plasma membrane, supporting another function for this protein. Structural studies, using methods for secondary structure prediction, indicated the presence of cysteine-rich domains specific to beta-integrins. Database searches revealed that AtELP1 is a member of a multigenic family composed of at least six members in A. thaliana. Northern blot analysis of AtELP1, 2b and 3 was performed on mRNA extracted from cells cultured in normal and stressed conditions, and from several organs and plants submitted to biotic or abiotic stresses. All the genes are expressed at different levels in the same conditions, but preferentially in roots, fruits and leaves in response to water deficit.