Seed dormancy and germination are complex adaptive traits of higher plants that are influenced by a large number of genes and environmental factors. Studies of genetics and physiology have shown the important roles of the plant hormones abscisic acid and gibberellin in the regulation of dormancy and germination. More recently, the use of quantitative genetics and mutant approaches has allowed the further genetic dissection of these traits and the identification of previously unknown components. Molecular techniques, and especially expression studies and transcriptome and proteome analyses, are novel tools for the analysis of seed dormancy and germination. These tools preferentially use Arabidopsis thaliana because of the molecular genetic resources available for this species. However, Solanaceae and cereals also provide important models for dormancy research.