Abstract A definition of plant hormone sensitivity is proposed which is based on the initial rates of responses at different hormone concentrations. By analogy with enzyme kinetics, it is concluded that simple concentration-response curves can be described by a function containing three ‘sensitivity parameters’. Objective methods for determining the values of these parameters and for comparing curves are described. These methods are used to describe the responses of Commelina communis L. stomata to abscisic acid. If certain assumptions are valid, the sensitivity parameters can be assigned physicochemical meanings. To validate the assumptions, certain experimental criteria must be fulfilled and these are discussed.