Dormancy release in imbibed annual ryegrass (Lolium rigidum Gaud.) seeds is promoted in the dark but inhibited in the light. The role of abscisic acid (ABA) in inhibition of dormancy release was found to be negligible, compared with its subsequent effect on germination of dormant and non-dormant seeds. Inhibitors of ABA metabolism had the expected effects on seed germination but did not influence ABA concentration, suggesting that they act upon other (unknown) factors regulating dormancy. Although gibberellin (GA) synthesis was required for germination, the influence of exogenous GA on both germination and dormancy release was minor or non-existent. Embryo ABA concentration was the same following treatments to promote (dark stratification) and inhibit (light stratification) dormancy release; exogenous ABA had no effect on this process. However, the sensitivity of dark-stratified seeds to ABA supplied during germination was lower than that of light-stratified seeds. Therefore, although ABA definitely plays a role in the germination of annual ryegrass seeds, it is not the major factor mediating inhibition of dormancy release in imbibed seeds.