WRKY transcription factor proteins play significant roles in plant stress responses. Here, we report the cloning and characterization of a novel WRKY gene, MusaWRKY71 isolated from an edible banana cultivar Musa spp. Karibale Monthan (ABB group). MusaWRKY71, initially identified using in silico approaches from an abiotic stress-related EST library, was later extended towards the 3' end using rapid amplification of cDNA ends technique. The 1299-bp long cDNA of MusaWRKY71 encodes a protein with 280 amino acids and contains a characteristic WRKY domain in the C-terminal half. Although MusaWRKY71 shares good similarity with other monocot WRKY proteins the substantial size difference makes it a unique member of the WRKY family in higher plants. The 918-bp long 5' proximal region determined using thermal asymmetric interlaced-polymerase chain reaction has many putative cis-acting elements and transcription factor binding motifs. Subcellular localization assay of MusaWRKY71 performed using a GFP-fusion platform confirmed its nuclear targeting in transformed banana suspension cells. Importantly, MusaWRKY71 expression in banana plantlets was up-regulated manifold by cold, dehydration, salt, ABA, H2O2, ethylene, salicylic acid and methyl jasmonate treatment indicating its involvement in response to a variety of stress conditions in banana. Further, transient overexpression of MusaWRKY71 in transformed banana cells led to the induction of several genes, homologues of which have been proven to be involved in diverse stress responses in other important plants. The present study is the first report on characterization of a banana stress-related transcription factor using transformed banana cells.