Transcription factors (TFs) are a group of proteins that control cellular processes by regulating the expression of downstream target genes. Recent progress has been made in the cloning and characterization of Arabidopsis TFs on the genome scale, especially on the cloning of open reading frames (ORFs), sequence analysis and the expression profiling of different TF families. Huge difference in numbers of subfamily members were found for Arabidopsis MYB, C2H2 (Zn), C3H-type 1 (Zn), C3H-type 2 (Zn) TFs by independent research groups, mainly because of differences in bioinformatic search stringency. However, the Arabidopsis and rice genomes contain very different numbers of TFs in the WRKY, NAC, bZIP, MADS, ALFIN-like, GRAS and C2C2 (Zn)-dof families, indicating a possible divergence of biological functions from dicots to monocots. TFs have also been found to play key roles in the biosynthesis and signaling of plant hormones, in cell growth and differentiation, and in photomorphogenesis.