Two closely related, tandemly arranged, low-temperature- and salt-induced Arabidopsis genes, corresponding to the previously isolated cDNAs RCI2A and RCI2B, were isolated and characterized. The RCI2A transcript accumulated primarily in response to low temperature or high salinity, and to a lesser extent in response to ABA treatment or water deficit stress. The RCI2B transcript was present at much lower levels than RCI2A, and could only be detected by reverse transcription-PCR amplification. The predicted 6 kDa RCI2 proteins are highly hydrophobic and contain two putative membrane-spanning regions. The polypeptides exhibit extensive similarity to deduced low-temperature- and/or salt-induced proteins from barley, wheat grass and strawberry, and to predicted proteins from bacteria, fungi, nematodes and yeast. Interestingly, we found that a deletion of the RCI2 homologous gene, SNA1 (YRD276c), in yeast causes a salt-sensitive phenotype. This effect is specific for sodium, since no growth defect was observed for the sna1 mutant on 1.7 M sorbitol, 1 M KCl or 0.6 M LiCl. Finally, we found that the Arabidopsis RCI2A cDNA can complement the sna1 mutant when expressed in yeast, indicating that the plant and yeast proteins have similar functions during high salt stress.