Our understanding of the molecular controls regulating the identity of the vascular cambium and the development of secondary xylem and phloem have not yet benefited much from the use of Arabidopsis as a genetic system. Under appropriate growth conditions Arabidopsis undergoes extensive secondary growth in the hypocotyl, with the development of both a vascular and a cork cambium. The secondary xylem of the hypocotyl develops in two phases, an early phase in which only vessel elements mature and a later stage in which both vessel elements and fibres are found. During this second phase the secondary xylem of Arabidopsis closely resembles the anatomy of the wood of an angiosperm tree, and can be used to address basic questions about wood formation. The development of the vascular cambium and secondary growth in Arabidopsis hypocotyl is described and its utility as a model for wood formation in trees is considered.