Adaptation to osmotic stress can be achieved by the accumulation of compatible solutes that aid in turgor maintenance and macromolecule stabilization. The genetic regulation of solute accumulation is poorly understood, and has been described well at the molecular level only in enterobacteria. In this study, we show the importance of the alternative sigma factor RpoE2 in Sinorhizobium meliloti osmoadaptation. Construction and characterization of an S. meliloti rpoE2 mutant revealed compromised growth in hyperosmotic media. This defect was due to the lack of trehalose, a minor carbohydrate osmolyte normally produced in the initial stages of growth and in stationary phase. We demonstrate here that all three trehalose synthesis pathways are RpoE2 dependent, but only the OtsA pathway is important for osmoinducible trehalose synthesis. Furthermore, we confirm that the absence of RpoE2-dependent induction of otsA is the cause of the osmotic phenotype of the rpoE2 mutant. In conclusion, we have highlighted that, despite its low level, trehalose is a crucial compatible solute in S. meliloti, and the OtsA pathway induced by RpoE2 is needed for its accumulation under hyperosmotic conditions.