The combination of robust physiological models with "omics" studies holds promise for the discovery of genes and pathways linked to how organisms deal with drying. Here we used a transcriptomics approach in combination with an in vivo physiological model of re-establishment of desiccation tolerance (DT) in Arabidopsis thaliana seeds. We show that the incubation of desiccation sensitive (DS) germinated Arabidopsis seeds in a polyethylene glycol (PEG) solution re-induces the mechanisms necessary for expression of DT. Based on a SNP-tile array gene expression profile, our data indicates that the re-establishment of DT, in this system, is related to a programmed reversion from a metabolic active to a quiescent state similar to prior to germination. Our findings show that transcripts of germinated seeds after the PEG-treatment are dominated by those encoding LEA, seed storage and dormancy related proteins. On the other hand, a massive repression of genes belonging to many other classes such as photosynthesis, cell wall modification and energy metabolism occurs in parallel. Furthermore, comparison with a similar system for Medicago truncatula reveals a significant overlap between the two transcriptomes. Such overlap may highlight core mechanisms and key regulators of the trait DT. Taking into account the availability of the many genetic and molecular resources for Arabidopsis, the described system may prove useful for unraveling DT in higher plants.