Abscisic acid (ABA) participates in the control of diverse physiological processes. The characterization of deficient mutants has clarified the ABA biosynthetic pathway in higher plants. Deficient mutants also lead to a revaluation of the extent of ABA action during seed development and in the response of vegetative tissues to environmental stress. Although ABA receptor(s) have not yet been identified, considerable progress has been recently made in the characterization of more downstream elements of the ABA regulatory network. ABA controls stomatal aperture by rapidly regulating identified ion transporters in guard cells, and the details of the underlying signalling pathways start to emerge. ABA actions in other cell types involve modifications of gene expression. The promoter analysis of ABA-responsive genes has revealed a diversity of cis-acting elements and a few associated trans-acting factors have been isolated. Finally, characterization of mutants defective in ABA responsiveness, and molecular cloning of the corresponding loci, has proven to be a powerful approach to dissect the molecular nature of ABA signalling cascades.