Plants are autotrophic and photosynthetic organisms that both produce and consume sugars. Soluble sugars are highly sensitive to environmental stresses, which act on the supply of carbohydrates from source organs to sink ones. Sucrose and hexoses both play dual functions in gene regulation as exemplified by the upregulation of growth-related genes and downregulation of stress-related genes. Although coordinately regulated by sugars, these growth- and stress-related genes are upregulated or downregulated through HXK-dependent and/or HXK-independent pathways. Sucrose-non-fermenting-1- (SNF1-) related protein pathway, analogue to the protein kinase (SNF-) yeast-signalling pathway, seems also involved in sugar sensing and transduction in plants. However, even if plants share with yeast some elements involved in sugar sensing, several aspects of sugar perception are likely to be peculiar to higher plants. In this paper, we have reviewed recent evidences how plants sense and respond to environmental factors through sugar-sensing mechanisms. However, we think that forward and reverse genetic analysis in combination with expression profiling must be continued to uncover many signalling components, and a full biochemical characterization of the signalling complexes will be required to determine specificity and cross-talk in abiotic stress signalling pathways.