Root hair development in plants is controlled by many genetic, hormonal, and environmental factors. A number of genes have been shown to be important for root hair formation. Arabidopsis salt overly sensitive 4 mutants were originally identified by screening for NaCl-hypersensitive growth. The SOS4 (Salt Overly Sensitive 4) gene was recently isolated by map-based cloning and shown to encode a pyridoxal (PL) kinase involved in the production of PL-5-phosphate, which is an important cofactor for various enzymes and a ligand for certain ion transporters. The root growth of sos4 mutants is slower than that of the wild type. Microscopic observations revealed that sos4 mutants do not have root hairs in the maturation zone. The sos4 mutations block the initiation of most root hairs, and impair the tip growth of those that are initiated. The root hairless phenotype of sos4 mutants was complemented by the wild-type SOS4 gene. SOS4 promoter-β-glucuronidase analysis showed that SOS4 is expressed in the root hair and other hair-like structures. Consistent with SOS4 function as a PL kinase, in vitro application of pyridoxine and pyridoxamine, but not PL, partially rescued the root hair defect in sos4 mutants. 1-Aminocydopropane-1-carboxylic acid and 2,4-dichlorophenoxyacetic acid treatments promoted root hair formation in both wild-type and sos4 plants, indicating that genetically SOS4 functions upstream of ethylene and auxin in root hair development. The possible role of SOS4 in ethylene and auxin biosynthesis is discussed.