Seed dormancy is a common phase of the plant life cycle, and several parts of the seed can contribute to dormancy. Whole seeds, seeds lacking the testa, embryos, and isolated aleurone layers of Arabidopsis (Arabidopsis thaliana) were used in experiments designed to identify components of the Arabidopsis seed that contribute to seed dormancy and to learn more about how dormancy and germination are regulated in this species. The aleurone layer was found to be the primary determinant of seed dormancy. Embryos from dormant seeds, however, had a lesser growth potential than those from nondormant seeds. Arabidopsis aleurone cells were examined by light and electron microscopy, and cell ultrastructure was similar to that of cereal aleurone cells. Arabidopsis aleurone cells responded to nitric oxide (NO), gibberellin (GA), and abscisic acid, with NO being upstream of GA in a signaling pathway that leads to vacuolation of protein storage vacuoles and abscisic acid inhibiting vacuolation. Molecular changes that occurred in embryos and aleurone layers prior to germination were measured, and these data show that both the aleurone layer and the embryo expressed the NO-associated gene AtNOS1, but only the embryo expressed genes for the GA biosynthetic enzyme GA3 oxidase.