Suberized cell walls form physiologically important plant-environment interfaces because they act as barriers that limit water and nutrient transport and protect plants from invasion by pathogens. Plants respond to environmental stimuli by modifying the degree of suberization in root cell walls. Salt stress or drought-induced suberization leads to a decrease in radial water transport in roots. Although reinforced, suberized cell walls never act as absolutely impermeable barriers. Deeper insights into the structure and biosynthesis of suberin are required to elucidate what determines the barrier properties. Progress has been obtained from analytical methods that enabled the structural characterization of oligomeric building blocks in suberin, and from the opening of suberin research to molecular genetic approaches by the elucidation of the chemical composition and tissue distribution of suberin in the model species Arabidopsis.