Flowering in many plant species is accelerated by a long period of cold temperature, known as a vernalization period. This research investigates how this cold temperature signal is perceived by plant cells and the mechanism by which it influences the transition to flowering. Mutagenesis of the late-flowering, vernalization-responsive, Arabidopsis mutant, fca, has yielded five independent mutations (termed vrn mutations) conferring an altered vernalization response. Allelism tests showed that these mutations fall into at least three complementation groups defining three loci named VRN 1, 2 and 3. The vrn1 and vrn2 mutations did not affect the acclimation response as judged by expression of cold-induced transcripts and freezing tolerance assays. vrn1-1 affected the short-day vernalization response of Landsberg erecta and reduced the vernalization response of other late-flowering Arabidopsis mutants. The acceleration of flowering by GA3 was not affected by vrn1-1. The VRN 1 locus was mapped to chromosome 3.