Sumoylation is a post-translational regulatory process in diverse cellular processes in eukaryotes, involving conjugation/deconjugation of small ubiquitin-like modifier (SUMO) proteins to other proteins thus modifying their function. The PIAS [protein inhibitor of activated signal transducers and activators of transcription (STAT)] and SAP (scaffold attachment factor A/B/acinus/PIAS)/MIZ (SIZ) proteins exhibit SUMO E3-ligase activity that facilitates the conjugation of SUMO proteins to target substrates. Here, we report the isolation and molecular characterization of Oryza sativa SIZ1 (OsSIZ1) and SIZ2 (OsSIZ2), rice homologs of Arabidopsis SIZ1. The rice SIZ proteins are localized to the nucleus and showed sumoylation activities in a tobacco system. Our analysis showed increased amounts of SUMO conjugates associated with environmental stresses such as high and low temperature, NaCl and abscisic acid (ABA) in rice plants. The expression of OsSIZ1 and OsSIZ2 in siz1-2 Arabidopsis plants partially complemented the morphological mutant phenotype and enhanced levels of SUMO conjugates under heat shock conditions. In addition, ABA-hypersensitivity of siz1-2 seed germination was partially suppressed by OsSIZ1 and OsSIZ2. The results suggest that rice SIZ1 and SIZ2 are able to functionally complement Arabidopsis SIZ1 in the SUMO conjugation pathway. Their effects on the Arabidopsis mutant suggest a function for these genes related to stress responses and stress adaptation. © 2010 Blackwell Publishing Ltd.