ABA-responsive element binding protein (AREB) and ABA-responsive element binding factor (ABF), members of the basic region/leucine zipper (bZIP)-type protein family, act as major transcription factors in ABA-responsive gene expression under abiotic stress conditions in Arabidopsis. Barley HvABI5 and rice transcription factor responsible for ABA regulation 1 (TRAB1) are homologues of AREB/ABF and are expressed in drought- and ABA-treated seedlings. However, no direct evidence has shown an association of an AREB/ABF-type transcription factor with stress tolerance in cereals. To understand the molecular basis of abiotic stress tolerance through a cereal AREB/ABF-type transcription factor, a wheat HvABI5 ortholog, Wabi5, was isolated and characterized. Wabi5 expression was activated by low temperature, drought and exogenous ABA treatment, and its expression pattern differed between two wheat accessions with distinct levels of stress tolerance and ABA sensitivity. Wabi5-expressing transgenic tobacco plants showed a significant increase in tolerance to abiotic stresses such as freezing, osmotic and salt stresses and a hypersensitivity to exogenous ABA in the seedling stage compared with wild-type plants. Expression of a GUS reporter gene under the control of promoters of three wheat cold-responsive/late embryogenesis abundant (Cor/Lea) genes, Wdhn13, Wrab18 and Wrab19, was enhanced by ectopic Wabi5 expression in wheat callus and tobacco plants. These results clearly indicated that WABI5 functions as a transcriptional regulator of the Cor/Lea genes in multiple abiotic stress responses in common wheat.