In Arabidopsis thaliana L., accumulation of abscisic acid (ABA) began to increase 2 h after plants had been subjected to dehydration stress and reached maximum levels after 10 h. Differential hybridization was used to isolate 26 Arabidopsis cDNAs with gene expression induced by a 1 h dehydration treatment. The cDNA clones were classified into 16 groups based on Southern blot hybridization, and named ERD (early-responsive to dehydration) clones. Partial sequencing of the cDNA clones revealed that three ERDs were identical to those of HSP cognates (Athsp70-1, Athsp81-2, and ubiquitin extension protein). Dehydration stress strongly induced the expression of genes for the three ERDs, while application of ABA, which is known to act as a signal transmitter in dehydration-stressed plants, did not significantly affect the ERD gene expression. This result suggests that these HSP cognates are preferentially responsive to dehydration stress in A. thaliana, and that signaling pathways for the expression of these genes under conditions of dehydration stress are not mainly mediated by ABA. We also discuss the possible functions of these three ERD gene products against dehydration stress.