The continuous formation of lateral roots is a vital part of establishing a root system and enables plants to react with developmental plasticity to changing soil conditions. Evidence is accumulating that abscisic acid (ABA), which is known to be involved in stress responses, has an important role in lateral root formation. An ABA receptor mutant, fca-1, shows an altered response to ABA during lateral root formation. Interestingly, ABA seems to have distinct roles at different stages in lateral root development. The emerging role of ABA in lateral root development fits well with its general functional properties as a stress hormone, including its role in dormancy.