BACKGROUND : Abscisic acid (ABA) is an important phytohormone for plant growth, development and responding to stresses such as drought, salinity, and pathogen infection. Pyrabactin Resistance 1 (PYR1)/PYR1-Like (PYL)/Regulatory Component of ABA Receptor (RCAR) (hereafter referred to as PYLs) has been identified as the ABA receptors. The PYL family members have been well studied in many plants. However, the members of PYL family have not been systematically identified at genome level in cultivated tobacco (Nicotiana tabacum) and its two ancestors. In this study, the phylogenic relationships, chromosomal distribution, gene structures, conserved motifs/regions, and expression profiles of NtPYLs were analyzed. RESULTS : We identified 29, 11, 16 PYLs in the genomes of allotetraploid N. tabacum, and its two diploid ancestors N. tomentosiformis and N. sylvestris, respectively. The phylogenetic analysis revealed that NtPYLs can be divided into three subfamilies, and each NtPYL has one counterpart in N. sylvestris or N. tomentosiformis. Based on microarray analysis of NtPYL transcripts, four NtPYLs (from subfamily II, III), and five NtPYLs (from subfamily I) are highlighted as potential candidates for further functional characterization in N. tabacum seed development, response to ABA, and germination, and resistance to abiotic stresses, respectively. Interestingly, the expression profiles of members in the same NtPYL subfamily showed somehow similar patterns in tissues at different developmental stages and in leaves of seedlings under drought stress, suggesting particular NtPYLs might have multiple functions in both plant development and drought stress response. CONCLUSIONS : NtPYLs are highlighted for important functions in seed development, germination and response to ABA, and particular in drought tolerance. This work will not only shed light on the PYL family in tobacco, but also provides some valuable information for functional characterization of ABA receptors in N. tabacum.