Cold stress on plants induces changes in the transcription of cold response genes. A cDNA clone encoding C2H2-type zinc finger protein, SCOF-1, was isolated from soybean. The transcription of SCOF-1 is specifically induced by low temperature and abscisic acid (ABA) but not by dehydration or high salinity. Constitutive overexpression of SCOF-1 induced cold-regulated (COR) gene expression and enhanced cold tolerance of non-acclimated transgenic Arabidopsis and tobacco plants. SCOF-1 localized to the nucleus but did not bind directly to either C-repeat/dehydration (CRT/DRE) or ABA responsive element (ABRE), cis-acting DNA regulatory elements present in COR gene promoters. However, SCOF-1 greatly enhanced the DNA binding activity of SGBF-1, a soybean G-box binding bZIP transcription factor, to ABRE in vitro. SCOF-1 also interacted with SGBF-1 in a yeast two-hybrid system. The SGBF-1 transactivated the beta-glucuronidase reporter gene driven by the ABRE element in Arabidopsis leaf protoplasts. Furthermore, the SCOF-1 enhanced ABRE-dependent gene expression mediated by SGBF-1. These results suggest that SCOF-1 may function as a positive regulator of COR gene expression mediated by ABRE via protein-protein interaction, which in turn enhances cold tolerance of plants.