HD2 (histone deacetylase) proteins are plant-specific histone deacetylases (HDACs). The Arabidopsis genome contains four HD2 genes, namely HD2A, HD2B, HD2C, and HD2D. We have previously demonstrated that HD2A, HD2B, and HD2C can repress transcription directly by targeting to promoters in planta. Here, we show that the N-terminal conserved motif (EFWG) and histidine 25 (H25), a potential catalytic residue, were important for the gene repression activity of HD2A. In situ hybridization indicated that HD2A, HD2B, and HD2C were expressed in ovules, embryos, shoot apical meristems, and primary leaves. Furthermore, all three genes were strongly induced during the process of somatic embryogenesis. HD2D mRNA was only detected in the stems and flowers with young siliques and may have adopted different functions. Using green fluorescent protein (GFP) fusions, we demonstrated that HD2A, HD2B, and HD2C accumulated in the nuclei of Arabidopsis cells. Overexpression of 35S::GFP-HD2A in transgenic Arabidopsis plants generated pleiotropic developmental abnormalities, including abnormal leaves, delayed flowering, and aborted seed development. The data showed that normal pattern of HD2 expression was essential for normal plant development and that HD2A, HD2B, and HD2C may be needed for embryogenesis and embryo development. Reverse transcriptase (RT)-PCR analysis revealed that a number of genes involved in seed development and maturation were repressed in the 35S::GFP-HD2A plants, supporting a role of HD2A in the regulation of gene expression during seed development.