Arabidopsis thaliana, a small annual plant belonging to the mustard family, is the subject of study by an estimated 7000 researchers around the world. In addition to the large body of genetic, physiological and biochemical data gathered for this plant, it will be the first higher plant genome to be completely sequenced, with completion expected at the end of the year 2000. The sequencing effort has been coordinated by an international collaboration, the Arabidopsis Genome Initiative (AGI). The rationale for intensive investigation of Arabidopsis is that it is an excellent model for higher plants. In order to maximize use of the knowledge gained about this plant, there is a need for a comprehensive database and information retrieval and analysis system that will provide user-friendly access to Arabidopsis information. This paper describes the initial steps we have taken toward realizing these goals in a project called The Arabidopsis Information Resource (TAIR) (www.arabidopsis.org).