Lipid monolayer studies were performed on a Langmuir trough in the absence and in the presence of the plant hormone abscisic acid (ABA). The ABA-induced effects on the lipid monolayers can be summarized as follows: (i) ABA as the free acid (pH below 5.3) increased the molecular area and slightly decreased the surface pressure in the collapse points of monolayers made of saturated, unsaturated and of mixed lipids; ABA as the anion showed only minor effects. (ii) The ABA-induced area increase of the lipid monolayers decreased when the surface pressure increased, but some ABA remained in the monolayers made of unsaturated phospholipids even at collapse pressure. (iii) The incorporation of ABA into the monolayers could be inhibited by adding the plant sterol beta-sitosterol to the monolayer forming phospholipids. (iv) There was no substantial difference of ABA action on plant phospholipids as compared with other phospholipids. (v) ABA had a much stronger influence on unsaturated phospholipids than on saturated ones. (vi) ABA decreased the phase-transition temperature of saturated phospholipids. These results, which agree with those obtained from phospholipid vesicle studies, indicate that the physical state of the lipid is important for the ability of ABA penetrating into the lipid monolayer. Finally, a possible relevance of these results is discussed in terms of the action of ABA on guard cell membranes of plants.