Stress-induced accumulation of five (COR47, LTI29, ERD14, LTI30 and RAB18) and tissue localization of four (LTI29, ERD14, LTI30 and RAB18) dehydrins in Arabidopsis were characterized immunologically with protein-specific antibodies. The five dehydrins exhibited clear differences in their accumulation patterns in response to low temperature, ABA and salinity. ERD14 accumulated in unstressed plants, although the protein level was up-regulated by ABA, salinity and low temperature. LTI29 mainly accumulated in response to low temperature, but was also found in ABA- and salt-treated plants. LTI30 and COR47 accumulated primarily in response to low temperature, whereas RAB18 was only found in ABA-treated plants and was the only dehydrin in this study that accumulated in dry seeds. Immunohistochemical localization of LTI29, ERD14 and RAB18 demonstrated tissue and cell type specificity in unstressed plants. ERD14 was present in the vascular tissue and bordering parenchymal cells, LTI29 and ERD14 accumulated in the root tip, and RAB18 was localized to stomatal guard cells. LTI30 was not detected in unstressed plants. The localization of LTI29, ERD14 and RAB18 in stress-treated plants was not restricted to certain tissues or cell types. Instead these proteins accumulated in most cells, although cells within and surrounding the vascular tissue showed more intense staining. LTI30 accumulated primarily in vascular tissue and anthers of cold-treated plants. This study supports a physiological function for dehydrins in certain plant cells during optimal growth conditions and in most cell types during ABA or cold treatment. The differences in stress specificity and spatial distribution of dehydrins in Arabidopsis suggest a functional specialization for the members of this protein family.