The SNF1-related kinases are considered to be crucial elements of transcriptional, metabolic and developmental regulation in response to stress. In yeast, SNF1 is one of the main regulators in the shift from fermentation to aerobic metabolism; AMPK, its mammalian counterpart, is a master metabolic regulator involved in a variety of metabolic disorders such as diabetes and obesity. The aim of this review is to examine the literature concerning SnRK1 proteins, the SNF1 homologues in plants. The remarkable structural similarities between the plant complexes and those of yeast and mammalian suggest the existence of a common ancestral function in the regulation of energy and carbon metabolism. We will also highlight some distinctive features acquired by the plant proteins during evolution.