Plant cell walls are composites of various carbohydrates, proteins and other compounds. Cell walls provide plants with strength and protection, and also represent the most abundant source of renewable biomass. Despite the importance of plant cell walls, comparatively little is known about the identities of genes and functions of proteins involved in their biosynthesis. The model plant Arabidopsis and the availability of its genome sequence have been invaluable for the identification and functional characterization of genes encoding enzymes involved in plant cell-wall biosynthesis. This review covers recent progress in the identification and characterization of genes encoding proteins involved in the biosynthesis of Arabidopsis cell-wall polysaccharides and arabinogalactan proteins. These studies have improved our understanding of both the mechanisms of cell-wall biosynthesis and the functions of various cell-wall polymers, and have highlighted areas where further research is needed.