The development of orthodox seeds concludes by a desiccation phase. The dry seeds then enter a phase of dormancy, also called the after-ripening phase, and become competent for germination. We discuss physiological processes as well as gene expression and metabolic programs occurring during the desiccation phase in respect to their contribution to the desiccation tolerance, dormancy competence and successful germination of the dry seeds. The transition of developing seeds from the phase of reserve accumulation to desiccation is associated with distinct gene expression and metabolic switches. Interestingly, a significant proportion of the gene expression and metabolic signatures of seed desiccation resemble those characterizing seed germination, implying that the preparation of the seeds for germination begins already during seed desiccation.