MAP kinases have been linked to guard cell signalling. Arabidopsis thaliana MAP Kinase 3 (MPK3) is known to be activated by abscisic acid (ABA) and hydrogen peroxide (H(2)O(2)), which also control stomatal movements. We therefore studied the possible role of MPK3 in guard cell signalling through guard cell-specific antisense inhibition of MPK3 expression. Such transgenic plants contained reduced levels of MPK3 mRNA in the guard cells and displayed partial insensitivity to ABA in inhibition of stomatal opening, but responded normally to this hormone in stomatal closure. However, ABA-induced stomatal closure was reduced compared with controls when cytoplasmic alkalinization was prevented with sodium butyrate. MPK3 antisense plants were less sensitive to exogenous H(2)O(2), both in inhibition of stomatal opening and in promotion of stomatal closure, thus MPK3 is required for the signalling of this compound. ABA-induced H(2)O(2) synthesis was normal in these plants, indicating that MPK3 probably acts in signalling downstream of H(2)O(2). These results provide clear evidence for the important role of MPK3 in the perception of ABA and H(2)O(2) in guard cells.