According to our previous studies the Arabidopsis gene AthH2 which is inducible by blue light and phytohormones codes for an intrinsic membrane protein. It bears a resemblance to several distinct channel proteins of plant and animal species classified as the MIP/NOD-26/GlpF family. In the present study biochemical analyses and electron microscopic immunochemistry were used to elucidate the subcellular location of the AthH2 protein. The results clearly demonstrate that it is an exclusive constituent of the plasmalemma. Furthermore, the expression of the AthH2 gene in transgenic Arabidopsis plants containing the promoter region of AthH2 fused to the beta-glucuronidase (gus) reporter gene was studied. The in situ localization of gus activity revealed that the specific promoter is temporally activated by light in expanding and/or differentiating cells comprising newly formed tissues and organs: root elongation zone, guard cells of stomata, vascular bundle sheaths, filaments of stamen and young siliques. Several sites of gus expression coincide spatially with those of in situ hybridization and the immunocytochemical reaction, respectively, suggesting that the AthH2 promoter had correctly responded to light as an important exogenous factor with relevance to the complex pattern of differentiation. Studies with protoplasts from plants transformed with an antisense construct revealed a water transport capacity of the AthH2 protein.