Osmoregulation is important for plant growth, development and response to environmental changes. SNF1-related protein kinase 2s (SnRK2s) are quickly activated by osmotic stress and are central components in osmotic stress and abscisic acid (ABA) signaling pathways; however, the upstream components required for SnRK2 activation and early osmotic stress signaling are still unknown. Here, we report a critical role for B2, B3 and B4 subfamilies of Raf-like kinases (RAFs) in early osmotic stress as well as ABA signaling in Arabidopsis thaliana. B2, B3 and B4 RAFs are quickly activated by osmotic stress and are required for phosphorylation and activation of SnRK2s. Analyses of high-order mutants of RAFs reveal critical roles of the RAFs in osmotic stress tolerance and ABA responses as well as in growth and development. Our findings uncover a kinase cascade mediating osmoregulation in higher plants.