Accumulating evidence suggests that mRNA degradation systems are crucial for various biological processes in eukaryotes. Here we provide evidence that an mRNA degradation system is associated with some plant hormones and stress responses in plants. We analysed a novel Arabidopsis abscisic acid (ABA)-hypersensitive mutant, ahg2-1, that showed ABA hypersensitivity not only in germination, but also at later developmental stages, and that displayed pleiotropic phenotypes. We found that ahg2-1 accumulated more endogenous ABA in seeds and mannitol-treated plants than did the wild type. Microarray experiments showed that the expressions of ABA-, salicylic acid- and stress-inducible genes were increased in normally grown ahg2-1 plants, suggesting that the ahg2-1 mutation somehow affects various stress responses as well as ABA responses. Map-based cloning of AHG2 revealed that this gene encodes a poly(A)-specific ribonuclease (AtPARN) that is presumed to function in mRNA degradation. Detailed analysis of the ahg2-1 mutation suggests that the mutation reduces AtPARN production. Interestingly, expression of AtPARN was induced by treatment with ABA, high salinity and osmotic stress. These results suggest that both upregulation and downregulation of gene expression by the mRNA-destabilizing activity of AtPARN are crucial for proper ABA, salicylic acid and stress responses.