The phytohormone abscisic acid is probably present in all higher plants. This hormone is necessary for regulation of several events during seed development and for the response to environmental stresses such as desiccation, salt and cold. An important part of the physiological response to abscisic acid is achieved through gene expression. Here, we summarize the current knowledge of regulation of abscisic acid-induced transcription. The main focus is on a description of the known abscisic acid-responsive cis-elements, their properties and the possible transacting factors binding to the elements. Results have shown that cooperative action of cis-elements and the promoter configuration is crucial for regulation by abscisic acid. Furthermore, several elements are organ- and species-specific. Recent studies of the chromatin structure of abscisic acid-responsive genes point to the importance of induction of transcription by coactivators or by phosphorylation/dephosphorylation of transcription factors. An interesting example of activation by a cofactor is the cooperative action between abscisic acid-signaling and the regulatory protein Viviparous 1 through the abscisic acid responsive element.