In yeasts, the ABC-type transporters are involved in vacuolar sequestration of cadmium. In plants, transport experiments with isolated vacuoles indicate that this is also true. In order to know more about the response of AtMRPs, a subclass of Arabidopsis ABC transporters, to cadmium, their expression pattern was analysed using the microchip technology and semi-quantitative reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction. From 15 putative sequences coding for AtMRPs, transcript levels were detected for 14. All were expressed in the roots as well as in the shoots, although at a different level. In 4-week-old Arabidopsis, transcript levels of four AtMRPs were up-regulated after cadmium treatment. In all cases up-regulation was exclusively observed in the roots. The increase of transcript levels was most pronounced for AtMRP3. A more detailed analysis revealed that induction of AtMRP3 could also be observed in the shoot when leaves were cut and cadmium allowed to be taken up in the shoot. In young plantlets, a far higher portion of Cd2+ was translocated in the aerial part compared with adult plants. Consequently, AtMRP3 transcript levels increased in both root and shoot of young plants. This suggests that 7-day-old seedlings do not exhibit such a strict root–shoot barrier as 4-week-old plants. Expression analysis with mutant plants for glutathione and phytochelatin synthesis as well as with compounds producing oxidative stress indicate that induction of AtMRP3 is likely due to the heavy metal itself.