One of the mechanisms involved in chromatin remodelling is so-called ‘histone replacement’. An example of such a mechanism is the substitution of canonical H2A histone by the histone variant H2A.Z. The ATP-dependent chromatin remodelling complex SWR1 is responsible for this action in yeast. We have previously proposed the existence of an SWR1-like complex in Arabidopsis by demonstrating genetic and physical interaction of the components SEF, ARP6 and PIE1, which are homologues of the yeast Swc6 and Arp6 proteins and the core ATPase Swr1, respectively. Here we show that histone variant H2A.Z, but not canonical H2A histone, interacts with PIE1. Plants mutated at loci HTA9 and HTA11 (two of the three Arabidopsis H2A.Z-coding genes) displayed developmental abnormalities similar to those found in pie1, sef and arp6 plants, exemplified by an early-flowering phenotype. Comparison of gene expression profiles revealed that 65% of the genes differentially regulated in hta9 hta11 plants were also mis-regulated in pie1 plants. Detailed examination of the expression data indicated that the majority of mis-regulated genes were related to salicylic acid-dependent immunity. RT-PCR and immunoblotting experiments confirmed constitutive expression of systemic acquired resistance (SAR) marker genes in pie1, hta9 hta11 and sef plants. Variations observed at the molecular level resulted in phenotypic alterations such as spontaneous cell death and enhanced resistance to the phytopathogenic bacteria Pseudomonas syringae pv. tomato. Thus, our results support the existence in Arabidopsis of an SWR1-like chromatin remodelling complex that is functionally related to that described in yeast and human, and attribute to this complex a role in maintaining a repressive state of the SAR response.