Hexavalent chromium is a contaminant highly mobile in the environment that is toxic for plants at low concentrations. In this work, the physiological response of Convolvulus arvensis and Medicago truncatula plants to Cr(VI) treatments was compared. C. arvensis is a potential Cr hyperaccumulator well adapted to semiarid conditions that biotransform Cr(VI) to the less toxic Cr(III). M. truncatula is a model plant well adapted to semiarid conditions with a well studied genetic response to heavy metal stress. The results demonstrated that C. arvensis is more tolerant to Cr toxicity and has a higher Cr translocation to the leaves. The inductively coupled plasma optical emission spectroscopy results showed that C. arvensis plants treated with 10 mg Cr(VI) L(-1) accumulated 1512, 210, and 131 mg Cr kg(-1) in roots, stems, and leaves, respectively. While M. truncatula plants treated with the same Cr(VI) concentration accumulated 1081, 331, and 44 (mg Cr kg(-1)) in roots, stems, and leaves, respectively. Enzymatic assays demonstrated that Cr(VI) decreased ascorbate peroxidase activity and increased catalase activity in M. truncatula, while an opposite response was found in C. arvensis. The x-ray absorption spectroscopy studies showed that both plant species reduced Cr(VI) to the less toxic Cr(III).