Abstract. Stomatal conductance, leaf water potential, soil water potential and concentration of abscisic acid (ABA) in the xylem sap were measured on maize plants growing in the field, in two treatments with contrasting soil structures. Soil compaction affected the stomatal conductance, but this effect was no longer observed if the soil water potential was increased by irrigation. Differences in leaf water potential did not account for the differences in conductance between treatments. Conversely, the relationship between stomatal conductance and concentration of ABA in the xylem sap was consistent during the experiment. The proposed interpretation is that stomatal conductance was controlled by the root water potential via an ABA message. Control of the stomatal conductance by the leaf water potential or by an effect of mechanical stress on the roots is unlikely.