Abscisic acid (ABA) conjugates, predominantly their glucose esters, have recently been shown to occur in the xylem sap of different plants. Under stress conditions, their concentration can rise substantially to levels that are higher than the concentration of free ABA. External ABA conjugates cannot penetrate apoplastic barriers in the root. They have to be hydrolysed by apoplastic enzymes in the root cortex. Liberated free ABA can then be redistributed to the root symplast and dragged directly across the endodermis to the stele. Endogenous ABA conjugates are formed in the cytosol of root cells, transported symplastically to the xylem parenchyma cells and released to the xylem vessels. The mechanism of release is unknown; it may include the action of ABC-transporters. Because of its extremely hydrophilic properties, ABA-GE is translocated in the xylem of the stem without any loss to the surrounding parenchyma. After arrival in the leaf apoplast, transporters for ABA-GE in the plasmalemma have to be postulated to redistribute the conjugates to the mesophyll cells. Additionally, apoplastic esterases can cleave the conjugate and release free ABA to the target cells and tissues. The activity of these esterases is increased when barley plants are subjected to salt stress.