The acceleration of flowering by a long period of low temperature, vernalization, is an adaptation that ensures plants overwinter before flowering. Vernalization induces a developmental state that is mitotically stable, suggesting that it may have an epigenetic basis. The VERNALIZATION2 (VRN2) gene mediates vernalization and encodes a nuclear-localized zinc finger protein with similarity to Polycomb group (PcG) proteins of plants and animals. In wild-type Arabidopsis, vernalization results in the stable reduction of the levels of the floral repressor FLC. In vrn2 mutants, FLC expression is downregulated normally in response to vernalization, but instead of remaining low, FLC mRNA levels increase when plants are returned to normal temperatures. VRN2 function therefore stably maintains FLC repression after a cold treatment, serving as a mechanism for the cellular memory of vernalization.