A cDNA clone corresponding to a novel low-temperature-induced Arabidopsis thaliana gene, named lti140, was employed for studies of the environmental signals and the signal pathways involved in cold-induced gene expression. The single-copy lti140 gene encodes a 140 kDa cold acclimation-related polypeptide. The lti140 mRNA accumulates rapidly in both leaves and roots when plants are subject to low temperature or water stress or are treated with the plant hormone abscisic acid (ABA), but not by heat-shock treatment. The low-temperature induction of lti140 is not mediated by ABA, as shown by normal induction of the lti140 mRNA in both ABA-deficient and ABA-insensitive mutants and after treatment with the ABA biosynthesis inhibitor fluridone. The effects of low temperature and exogenously added ABA are not cumulative suggesting that these two pathways converge. The induction by ABA is abolished in the ABA-insensitive mutant abi-1 indicating that the abi-1 mutation defines a component in the ABA response pathway. Accumulation of the lti140 mRNA in plants exposed to water stress was somewhat reduced by treatment with fluridone and in the ABA-insensitive mutant abi-1 suggesting that the water stress induction of ltil40 could be partly mediated by ABA. It is concluded that three separate but converging signal pathways regulate the expression of the ltil40 gene.