Carboxylesterases hydrolyze esters of short-chain fatty acids and have roles in animals ranging from signal transduction to xenobiotic detoxification. In plants, however, little is known of their roles. We have systematically mined the genome from the model plant Arabidopsis thaliana for carboxylesterase genes and studied their distribution in the genome and expression profile across a range of tissues. Twenty carboxylesterase genes (AtCXE) were identified. The AtCXE family shares conserved sequence motifs and secondary structure characteristics with carboxylesterases and other members of the larger alpha/beta hydrolase fold superfamily of enzymes. Phylogenetic analysis of the AtCXE genes together with other plant carboxylesterases distinguishes seven distinct clades, with an Arabidopsis thaliana gene represented in six of the seven clades. The AtCXE genes are widely distributed across the genome (present in four of five chromosomes), with the exception of three clusters of tandemly duplicated genes. Of the interchromosomal duplication events, two have been mediated through newly identified partial chromosomal duplication events that also include other genes surrounding the AtCXE loci. Eighteen of the 20 AtCXE genes are expressed over a broad range of tissues, while the remaining 2 (unrelated) genes are expressed only in the flowers and siliques. Finally, hypotheses for the functional roles of the AtCXE family members are presented based on the phylogenetic relationships with other plant carboxylesterases of known function, their expression profile, and knowledge of likely esterase substrates found in plants.