Six new Arabidopsis thaliana genes (AtRCI2C-H) have been identified that show high homology to AtRCI2A and AtRCI2B. Sequence comparisons revealed that AtRCI2-related genes are widely spread among very different organisms, including other plant species, prokaryotes, fungi, and simply organized animals, and are also organized in gene families. Most RCI2 genes show a similar exon-intron organization, which indicates that they have been structurally conserved during evolution, and encode small, highly hydrophobic proteins containing two putative transmembrane domains. Consistently, the majority of AtRCI2 proteins localize in the plasma membrane. RCI2 proteins exhibit an elevated level of sequence similarity and seem to have evolved from a common ancestor. In spite of their high similarity, conserved subcellular localization, and common origin, experimental evidence is presented suggesting that different RCI2 proteins may have distinct functional roles. Thus, as previously demonstrated for AtRCI2A and AtRCI2B, the newly identified AtRCI2 genes (AtRCI2C-H) are differentially regulated in Arabidopsis organs and in response to abiotic stresses and ABA treatment. Furthermore, only the AtRCI2 proteins that do not contain the C-terminal hydrophilic tail (i.e. AtRCI2A-C and AtRCI2H) are able to complement for the loss of the yeast AtRCI2-related gene PMP3. On the basis of these results, different aspects on the evolution and roles of RCI2 genes are discussed.